Advice to educators and parents: Prepare for a strike.
“The district’s actions make it look inevitable.”
Negotiators for SCUSD after failing to return to the bargaining table over the weekend come unprepared, stay briefly, and offer lackluster concessionary proposal that fails to address staffing crisis
SACRAMENTO –The contract negotiations between the Sacramento City Teachers Association and the Sacramento City Unified School District that resumed Monday afternoon failed to address the staffing crisis that has left 10,000 Sac City students without a permanent teacher, bringing the district one step closer to a strike.
After one hour of negotiating, district negotiators left “to caucus” and never returned. A state mediator had to call off the bargaining session in the absence of the SCUSD representatives.
“The district has misplaced priorities and no sense of urgency,” said SCTA president David Fisher.
Last week, an independent review by a fact-finder chosen by both parties under the auspices of the California Public Employment Relations Board sided with the union on staffing and wage issues and their correlation to serving students. The neutral fact-finder found that teacher salaries and benefits are “clearly relevant to recruitment and retention of staff.”
SCUSD’s negotiating team had refused to meet with the union over the weekend, stating they had to review the fact-finder’s report.
Despite a written commitment to “follow the fact-finder’s recommendation to the maximum extent possible,” SCUSD’s negotiators in Monday’s brief bargaining session refused to address the staffing crisis, which is the central issue facing the district.
Instead, in a clear act of bad-faith bargaining, SCUSD violated the ground rules set by the mediator by releasing its proposal in a press release.
The district’s bargaining team demanded a massive rollback in educators’ health insurance benefits that would force employees to pay up to an additional $12,000 per year for coverage. The district would then use healthcare savings to fund a small wage increase, well below the rate of inflation.
SCUSD has received an infusion of state and federal dollars. The district now receives over $20,000 per student per year and has a record reserve fund of $125 million dollars. But rather than use available funds and increased state support to retain and recruit teachers and staff, the district continues to propose concessions.
Meanwhile, SCUSD is short 250 teachers, over 100 substitutes, and 400 school staff. Every day, 3,000 to 5,000 students are warehoused in auditoriums or forced to double- or triple-up in classrooms due to a lack of staffing. Nearly 600 students who have applied for independent study because they are unable to attend school in-person, receive no instruction at all.
“The district’s cynical, bad faith proposal shows that the superintendent and school board are motivated by an agenda to maximize operating profit at the expense of student learning,” said Fisher, who is also a second-grade teacher. “The state and federal governments have stepped up to help schools in this time of need. In stark contrast, Superintendent Aguilar and the school board refuse to act and our students suffer as a result.”
SCTA and SCUSD are scheduled to meet again today, but the district’s breach of the rules of mediation and failure to address the fact-finder’s recommendations makes a settlement before the strike deadline look less likely. “My advice to educators and parents is to prepare for a strike. The district’s actions make it look inevitable.” Fisher said.