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Teachers union President Camille Zombro said that the widespread characterization of a union push for a golden handshake as a teachers-only proposal is a misinterpretation of their requests.

School board member John de Beck and Administrators Association Executive Director Jeannie Steeg had earlier told me that the teachers union had proposed that bonus to goad employees to retire should be for teachers only. Steeg later said that she may have misunderstood the information communicated to her by Superintendent Terry Grier.

“What he had shared is that the teachers wanted it for teachers only,” Steeg said Thursday morning. Contacted later in the same day after Zombro objected to the characterization of the plan, Steeg softened her language.

Zombro said that keeping other groups out of a golden handshake “has never been part of our proposal.” Their initial proposal asks for a golden handshake for the teachers union but does not specify whether or not other units could get such an agreement as well.

“We told them to isolate our bargaining unit to find out how much we were saving,” Zombro said. “That does not mean, ‘Do not give anyone else a golden handshake.’ That does not reflect our values.” She blamed Deberie Gomez-Grobe, a member of the negotiating team for San Diego Unified, for spreading the information.

“She continued to stand by that even though we refuted that numerous occasions,” Zombro said.

De Beck seemed to think otherwise.

“The teachers can’t say we don’t want another union to get any benefits,” he said Thursday afternoon. “That is totally improper. We wouldn’t do it and they should not have done it.”

I’m calling back de Beck — and Grier — to clarify whether this is a misunderstanding or a genuine disagreement.

EMILY ALPERT

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