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Judge Rules SCUSD Scab Pay Was Illegal, Finds Hundreds of Strikers are Due Compensation

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In a decision issued on August 23, 2021, that can be viewed here, California Public Employment Relations Board (PERB) Administrative Law Judge Jeffrey R. A. Edwards ruled that the Sacramento City Unified School District (SCUSD) “interfered with employees and organizational rights and unilaterally changed terms and conditions of employment.” According to Judge Edwards’s ruling, the SCUSD school board acted unlawfully when it passed a resolution to increase pay to scabs in its unsuccessful effort to encourage teachers to cross the picket line during a SCTA one-day unfair labor practice strike on April 11, 2019.

Judge Edwards noted that “unfair practice strikes serve to protest an employer’s unlawful conduct and impress on employers the workers resolve and solidarity with their union’s demands.” SCUSD’s “interference with SCTA’s lawful efforts to persuade employees to honor the strike was a significant violation of SCTA’s and its members protected rights.” He noted, “the harm to protected rights was significant. . . That few teachers took the District up on its offer does not change this analysis.”

The illegal activity was the resolution passed unanimously by the school board to pay scabs $500 per day to “induce” them to cross the picket liine, nearly $300 per day higher than the normal pay to substitutes that ranges from $133.67 to $203.25. With over 97% of the 2800 SCTA members striking, SCUSD was only able to hire approximately 440 replacements, even with the “modest qualifications” the District required (in Judge Edwards’s words) for scabs, and despite the inflated scab pay, The District testified it recruited non-credentialed people from “the community” to fill positions.

In his ruling, Judge Edwards orders the SCUSD school board to rescind its unlawful resolution and ordered the District to pay SCTA bargaining unit members who struck the same premium, $500 per day, provided to scabs. “The remedial payment will be calculated by subtracting the daily pay SCTA-represented employees who did not work on April 11, 2019 earned at the time from five hundred dollars, compounded by the interest rate of seven (7) percent per annum.” The daily rate in place at the time ranged from $258.65 to $557.88 per day. The average SCUSD teacher in 2019 was paid approximately $387 per day. With compounded interest of an estimated 14.49%, compensation owed to strikers who made less than $500 per day is approximately $500,000 in total.

Judge Edwards’s August 23 decision follows just weeks after PERB issued its seventeenth complaint against SCUSD since Jorge Aguilar became superintendent on July 1, 2017. The serial violations of California labor law ranks SCUSD number one among 1037 school district in the state in breaking the law over the last four years.

Aguilar’s reckless disregard for the law is among the reasons both certificated staff represented by SCTA and classified staff represented by SEIU Local 1021 overwhelmingly voted (by over 96%) NO CONFIDENCE in Aguilar’s leadership. The justification for the overwhelming vote of NO CONFIDENCE can be found here.

Additionally, the law breaking is consistentent with the findings of state auditor who found that the SCUSD Board of Education “failed to uphold its fiduciary duty” with regarding to budgeting and reactions from the CEO of the State of California’s Fiscal Crisis and Management Assistance Team (FCMAT) which noted the Aguilar and SCUSD had “no creditability.”

The District has spent millions in tax payer dollars to Lozano Smith, its outside law firm, in defending its unlawful actions, as well as having to pay SCTA’s attorney fees to compensate for Aguilar’s illegal activities.

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