SACRAMENTO -- Sacramento City Unified School District teachers have voted to strike, saying the district has engaged in unfair labor practices.
This decision comes as the district moves closer to a possible State takeover.
The teachers say district officials, including Superintendent Jorge Aguilar, have violated labor rules.
"The most significant action taken by Mr. Aguilar among others was his unprecedented lawsuit against his own teachers," David Fischer, Sacramento City Teachers Association, said. "And then his refusal to use savings from our health plans to help to lower class sizes and add more school nurses and psychologists and services."
Superintendent Aguilar said he does not believe the district has violated labor rules. But, said if the teachers strike, they will just make things worse.
"If anything we are moving on a faster track toward state takeover," Aguilar said.
Sac City Unified is $35 millions in the hole, and must close that budget gap by June or risk a state takeover.
They have approved cuts to administration, teacher and staff layoffs, and have asked their five district labor unions to renegotiate their benefits and put the savings towards the deficit.
But, the teacher’s union is pushing back.
"SCTA is being extremely selfish in this," Richard Owen, Executive Director of United Professional Educators, said.
The other four unions covered by the district like school plumbers, cafeteria staff, principals and bus drivers aren’t holding back on how they see the teachers' position.
"It’s going to drive this district right off a cliff into receivership and the public is going to lose local control, programs will be cut, a state administrator will be assigned -- who couldn't care less about the quality of the academic program," Owen said.
"When the district makes agreements what are our options?" Fischer questioned.
Though the teachers have authorized a strike, whether one goes into effect will hinge on how bargaining between the district and teachers union proceeds. For now, students and families can expect their teachers at school.
Both the school district and teachers union said they are open to meeting with one another.
The Sacramento City School District released the following statement in response to the strike announcement:
“A strike would put the district on the fast track to a state takeover which would only hurt our students, families, and employees. We believe the grounds for the strike laid out by SCTA leaders today are unfounded. A strike is not the solution to address any concerns about the District’s practices. A strike will only put our students, families, and employees through unnecessary hardships in and outside of the classroom. We instead continue to encourage SCTA leaders to come to the table to start negotiations with a neutral facilitator.”