Sacramento teachers reach bargain with district, avoid strike
On Nov. 6, the Sacramento City Teachers Association (SCTA) and the Sacramento City Unified School District (SCUSD) came to an agreement for a 6-percent increase in teacher salaries. The resettlement came shortly after the growing threat of Sacramento educators to strike in overwhelming numbers. The resettlement brings closure to the past 13 months of negotiations between the union and the district.
“The overwhelming support for our public schools is what keeps us as educators standing up for our students,” said SCTA president and Sacramento teacher David Fisher in a press release. “We believe this tentative agreement will help move us in the direction necessary to ensure each and every one of our students has a qualified educator in every classroom, resources they need and programs that will ensure their success.”
SCTA began its discussion with the district in June 2016, stating that the district withheld $81 million in reserves, which equates to a 320 percent increase in reserves over a four-year period. SCTA proposed using this money to fund the Destination District, an educational initiative to increase educator salaries, reduce class sizes and provide greater opportunity for Sacramento students to engage in arts, music and physical education, among other objectives. However, on several occasions, the district refused to reach an agreement with the union due to discrepancies and misunderstandings regarding the SCUSD budget.
Alex Barrios, the chief communications officer for SCUSD, believes that two important factors prompted both parties to reach a final contract agreement.
“I think the mayor’s involvement helped a lot,” Barrios said. “The other thing that changed was that the state had concluded its fact-finding report, which agreed with the district’s assessment that the amount of money we were putting on the table was fair, reasonable and within our means. When the public saw that there was not, in fact, $86 million available to spend, I think that helped moved the discussion along as well.”
In a statement regarding the details of the tentative bargaining agreement, the district declared that the teacher contract offer will require a $25 million investment. The investment will be used to support educators, school psychologists and impaired-learning specialists. Additionally, the district will improve lifetime health benefits and access to free family health insurance for Sacramento educators.
The resettlement agreement negated the union’s move to strike at the last possible moment. According to SCTA, Sacramento educators had previously voted to participate in a teacher strike with 97.2 percent approval. There was minimal progress in the bargaining process as of mid-October, and if a strike had occurred, it would have been the first Sacramento teacher strike since 1989.
Sacramento Mayor Darrell Steinberg expressed his opinion toward the agreement and evasion of the teacher strike in a statement to the Sacramento Bee.
“Forty-three thousand students, parents, teachers and our entire community can breathe easy this afternoon,” the mayor said. “Let this be the beginning of a new day of partnership that puts old wounds behind. Together, let’s make Sacramento City the best school district in the state.”
Written by: Eliana Sisneros — firstname.lastname@example.org