Sacramento city teachers, staff vote to authorize strike

Two unions representing thousands of teachers and staff within the Sacramento City Unified School District overwhelmingly voted Thursday to authorize a strike. It has not set a strike date yet. The Sacramento City Teachers Association announced that 95%, with more than 82% of its members participating, voted to authorize a strike “if the district continues to bargain in bad faith” amid demands to address the staffing shortage and COVID-19 health and safety guidelines, David Fisher, president of the Sacramento City Teachers Association said.SEIU Local 1021 chapter members passed the strike vote by 97%, said chapter president Karla Faucett.Educators say they are frustrated over what they claim are staffing shortages and inadequate support for students , despite federal funding and claims the district is running record surpluses. The association says 10,000 students go without a regular teacher in the classroom every day and thousands more do not have a substitute teacher. “Every single day, 3,000 students approximately go without even a substitute teacher, we have approximately 600 students on a waiting list to get into independent study who have not had instruction all year because the district is so short-staffed, “Fisher said.Faucett says the short staffing has led to staff being needlessly exposed to COVID-19. CalOSHA cited the district on Thursday for multiple issues including; encouraging COVID-19 positive or symptomatic staff to continue to report to work, not notifying employees of a positive test and cutting back on janitorial services. Read the full citation here.Fisher blames Sacramento City Unified School District Superintendent Jorge Aguilar for making the staffing crisis worse. Aguilar sent a letter to employees on Wednesday cautioning a strike saying it will “cause chaos for students and families.” “After nearly three school years of interrupted learning due to COVID-related school closures, illness, and quarantines, it is unconscionable that SCTA is threatening a strike to shut down our schools. This is offensive to all of our families that have been waiting for their children’s school experience to get back to normal, “the letter read. The unions say they are also against a proposal by the district they say is a five-year wage freeze for certified staff and a reduction in the average educator’s take-home pay by $ 10,000 a year through cuts to health benefits. Aguilar said claims about losing health benefits are part of a separate contract issue. The district says some of the problem-solving proposals it presented included providing extra pay to teachers who volunteered to take on additional students in independent study, providing extra pay for substitute teachers and extra pay for nurses who took on COVID-19-related duties after work. Both the Sacramento City Teachers Association and SEIU 1021 will hold a rally next week on March 17 at the next school board meeting to protest the staffing shortage. “It’s our hope that the district will change its behavior and start bargaining in good faith and work with rather than against us and avoid taking this dispute to the next level, “Fisher said.

Two unions representing thousands of teachers and staff within the Sacramento City Unified School District overwhelmingly voted Thursday to authorize a strike. It has not set a strike date yet.

The Sacramento City Teachers Association announced that 95%, with more than 82% of its members participating, voted to authorize a strike “if the district continues to bargain in bad faith” amid demands to address the staffing shortage and COVID-19 health and safety guidelines, David Fisher, president of the Sacramento City Teachers Association said.

SEIU Local 1021 chapter members passed the strike vote by 97%, said chapter president Karla Faucett.

Educators say they are frustrated with what they claim are staffing shortages and inadequate support for students, despite federal funding and claims the district is running record surpluses.

The association says 10,000 students go without a regular teacher in the classroom every day and thousands more do not have a substitute teacher.

“Every single day, 3,000 students approximately go without even a substitute teacher, we have approximately 600 students on a waiting list to get into independent study who have not had instruction all year because the district is so short-staffed,” Fisher said.

Faucett says the short staffing has led to staff being needlessly exposed to COVID-19.

CalOSHA cited the district on Thursday for multiple issues including; encouraging COVID-19 positive or symptomatic staff to continue to report to work, not notifying employees of a positive test and cutting back on janitorial services. Read the full citation here.

Fisher blames Sacramento City Unified School District Superintendent Jorge Aguilar for making the staffing crisis worse.

Aguilar sent a letter to employees on Wednesday cautioning a strike saying it will “cause chaos for students and families.”

“After nearly three school years of interrupted learning due to COVID-related school closures, illness, and quarantines, it is unconscionable that SCTA is threatening a strike to shut down our schools. This is offensive to all of our families that have been waiting for their children’s school experience to get back to normal, “the letter read.

The unions say they are also against a proposal by the district they say is a five-year wage freeze for certified staff and a reduction in the average educator’s take-home pay by $ 10,000 a year through cuts to health benefits.

Aguilar said claims about losing health benefits are part of a separate contract issue. The district says some of the problem-solving proposals it presented included providing extra pay to teachers who volunteered to take on additional students in independent study, providing extra pay for substitute teachers and extra pay for nurses who took on COVID-19-related duties after work.

Both the Sacramento City Teachers Association and SEIU 1021 will hold a rally next week on March 17 at the next school board meeting to protest the staffing shortage.

“It’s our hope that the district will change its behavior and start bargaining in good faith and work with rather than against us and avoid taking this dispute to the next level,” Fisher said.

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