Sacramento City Unified teachers, staff set to strike next week
Sacramento City Unified School District teachers and many district staff members will go on strike next Wednesday if there is no progress in negotiations between the district’s administration and two of its unions.
Hundreds of people showed up at a rally supporting school employees before the regular school board meeting Thursday afternoon. Some staff wore T-shirts sporting the logo for SEIU Local 221, while district teachers wore red T-shirts symbolizing education’s Red for Ed labor movement.
The unions complained of staffing shortages that have left hundreds of students without a full-time teacher or substitute every day. They say 600 students are on a waiting list for independent study and are getting no instruction. The unions also say that they oppose a district proposal to freeze wages for certificated staff and cut health benefits for family members, saying that would only cause more staffing shortages.
“As teachers, a strike is always a last resort,” said David Fisher, Sacramento City Teachers Association president. “We are available 24 hours, seven days a week between now and the 23rd. But we are prepared to strike for our students next Wednesday because when we fight, kids win.”
Fisher said the district is in the best financial situation in its history, but the district school board, which held a press conference earlier in the day, said the district’s budget has had a persistent structural deficit for years, meaning it has more ongoing costs than incoming revenue.
The teachers union and school district have been negotiating a contract since early 2019. They also have been bargaining over Covid-related issues for about two years, reaching an impasse in December.
Sacramento City Unified is the latest district to call for a strike this month. Teachers in Cotati-Rohnert Park Unified in Sonoma County, north of San Francisco, have been on strike since Tuesday, while teachers in the Mt. Diablo Unified School District are also considering a strike.