In an act of love for their students, the Sacramento City Teachers Association Representative Council unanimously passed a motion to have a membership-wide strike vote. The SCTA Rep Council consists of some 100 education leaders who are elected at the school sites across the Sacramento City Unified School District. The vote was taken on Valentine’s Day, February 14.
The vote does not mean that a strike will automatically happen, but it does give the SCTA executive board the ability to call a strike if the district continues its unlawful behavior when it comes to “honoring our contract, ongoing negotiations and overall labor relations.” Individual school strike votes are now being scheduled, with the first ones beginning on Tuesday and spread out over the next three weeks. Notice will go out prior to the vote at each school and the voting should conclude by the second week of March.
“As educators, a strike should be a last resort,” said SCTA President David Fisher. “But just when we think the district’s unlawful conduct couldn’t get any worse, they hit a new low.”
Last year, just days away from a strike, Superintendent Jorge Aguilar personally signed an agreement with teachers to restructure the salary schedule and to use savings from health plan changes to lower classes and add nurses and psychologists. When Aguilar backtracked on implementing the new salary schedule, the association moved to arbitration. Aguilar sued teachers to try to stop the arbitration, but a judge recently compelled the district to arbitrate.
“Aguilar is acting like the agreement he signed is optional. If he can get away with it, what’s to stop the LA superintendent and others to do the same,” said Fisher.
The on-going salary dispute also intensified because SCUSD has claimed that it is broke, and while SCTA has offered proposals to help deal with the district’s budget concerns, SCTA is also calling for an audit of SCUSD, alleging misue of district resources and conflicts of interest.
Now, says Fisher, management behavior has caused more heartburn and headaches. In addition to attempting to dictate who can represent teachers at the bargaining table, SCTA claims SCUSD is refusing to meet at reasonable times for teachers, refusing to bring district representatives to the table with the authority to make decisions and failing to provide requested information in a timely way.
“It is disheartening to be making agreements, then have SCUSD refuse to reduce those agreements into signed, enforceable documents,” Fisher noted. “And the recent practice of making unilateral changes in wages and working pay without negotiating with the Association must stop.”
“We want a fair contract that provides the resources and opportunities our students need to succeed… and that respects the teaching professionals in this district,” he added. “This district’s bad behavior will not get a good settlement. Our students deserve better. Our teachers deserve better.”