SACRAMENTO, Calif. (KTXL) — By Monday, the planned strike by Sacramento City Unified School District teachers and other staff was just two days away.
SCUSD’s disagreement with its teachers and staff is not just about their main workplace contract. The pandemic added another layer to the ongoing staffing, wage, and working condition conflicts that led to Wednesday’s planned strike.
“They are not going to solve that problem by asking for takebacks from us and for us to take a hit for $10,000 to $12,000 in salary,” said 4th-grade teacher Alice Mercer.
The Sacramento City Teachers Association said negotiations will continue Tuesday after no agreement was reached Monday.
If the strike happens, SCUSD said it would close all 75 of its campuses, which would keep 40,000 students home from school.
“I know it’s hard to have the schools close, but I think what the teachers are fighting for is important,” said Sacramento City Unified parent Samantha Benton.
SCUSD said if the strike happens on Wednesday, it has plans for students who will need breakfast and lunch. Pre-bagged meals will be provided at all campuses and curbside meal distributions will happen at select community locations from 11:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. each day schools are closed. The district said those distribution locations will be announced once they are confirmed.
For the teachers association, the strike comes down to one main issue.
“The whole reason we are here right now is because the district cannot staff its schools,” explained David Fisher, the president of the Sacramento City Teachers Association.
When the district and union could not come to an agreement on the COVID-19 bargaining, the district declared an impasse and a third party reviewed their dispute.
The third-party, independent group’s report was made public last week.
“Overall, it was a very thoughtful approach,” Fisher said.
The report found that the district and the teachers association were largely on the same page when it came to COVID-19 safety protocols.
With regards to short-term, distance learning, the district proposed having instructors teach in the classroom and over Zoom at the same time to accommodate quarantined students.
The report vetoed that idea but supported the district’s idea to have quarantined teachers teach over Zoom if they are willing, while their students attend class in-person while being supervised by a substitute.
And in a big win for the teachers union, the report recommends an across-the-board, retroactive cost of living increase equal to the amount to the superintendent’s cost of living increase for this school year.
“We’re willing to accept that compromise. Now the ball’s in the district’s court for lack of a better phrase,” Fisher said.
“Our families will suffer from uncertainty and lack of stability in the event that our schools are forced to close due to strike,” district officials said just before last week’s board meeting on Thursday.
On Monday, the district declined to speak to FOX40 and said their personnel are in negotiations with the unions. They referred media to the following statement:
The District remains committed to do all that we can to avert a strike and plan to continue negotiations on Monday in an attempt to reach an agreement with SCTA. SCUSD worked throughout the weekend to prepare for the meeting this afternoon.Sacramento City Unified School District
During a break in negotiations, Fisher spoke to FOX40. The school district said it has severe budget problems and needs to cut salaries and benefits, but Fisher is adamant money is not the issue.
“The Biden administration and the governor’s office has given hundreds of millions of dollars, and our district has gotten $325 million. The money is not the issue, it’s the issue of priorities,” Fisher said.