Stockton Teachers Storm School Board Meeting Upset About Contract

STOCKTON -- With chants and signs as lesson plans for their district's school board, Stockton's union teachers tried to make sure there was nothing unclear in their message.

"They're not interested in the children. They're not interested in the teachers. What their motive is, I don't know," said Alan Locke, a sixth-grade teacher on the district's Pulliam campus.

In the midst of tense contract negotiations, and four days after 97 percent of the Stockton Teacher's Association authorized a strike, more than 100 of the union's members packed the board room.

It was all an effort to voice their displeasure for what they see as mounting signs of disrespect for their now expired work agreement.

Teachers are asking for a 6.5 percent pay increase -- and the district is offering that, but 6 percent of it is contingent on 120 minutes being added to school week.

Nick Golden, a fourth-grade teacher at Harrison Elementary says he's already doing hours of outside work for his students. He doesn't want more.

"On the weekend, I'll spend five to six hours on the weekend doing something. We don't get credit for it. They always give you more, more, more reports to do and no compensation for it," he said.

On the school board's agenda Tuesday?

A plan to add almost $200 to substitute teachers' pay in event of a strike -- a move against existing contract language.

"They want to violate the law and pay teachers $350 a day in case of a strike which would be an unfair labor practice, so we filed with PERB today," said STA President Erich Myers.

PERB is California's Public Employment Relations Board.

Fremont eighth-grade teacher Shana Cole brought her special needs daughter out to protest.

Little Kira and the kids in Cole's class are the reason she's holding a sign.

"I don't make as much as they would in a day. It's really striking a cord with me," she said.

"Is it illegal?"

That was the question school board Trustee Dr. Andrea Burrise asked after hearing from the union about wording in the governing contract.

District lawyers told the board a defense against it could be a calling the move a "business need" given the event of a strike.

"So it's the same  logic, the (current) teachers are asking to increase salaries to attract teachers," she said before a vote on the item.

In the end. Burrise and Trustee Phillips were the only two to say "no" to the idea, so it passed with five votes, leading many teachers to  walk out.

"I think it was quite a slap in the face," said Liz Bowman, an 11-year teaching veteran in the district.

Negotiators for the district and the union will come back to the bargaining table Wednesday at 10:30 a.m.

A council of union teachers plan to meet among themselves at 4 p.m.

Dianne Barth, director of communications and marketing with the Stockton Unified School District sent FOX40 this statement about the ongoing labor dispute:

"Stockton Unified School District is hopeful that negotiations with the Stockton Teachers Association will conclude shortly and provide a positive outcome for students and teachers.

The district has bargained in good faith for months on the 2015-16 contract and further meetings are planned between the parties later this week. Stockton Unified has offered a 6.5 percent salary increase, which would keep SUSD teachers among the highest compensated in San Joaquin County.

The district has asked teachers for more time for teacher training and instructional minutes to improve student achievement."