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Striking Sacramento Teachers Union Slams District For Rejecting Invite

Above Photo: Sacramento City Councilwomen Katie Valenzuela and Mai Vang spoke at a strike rally March 25, 2022, at City Hall. Sacramento City Unified and the City Teachers Association each say the other side will not return to the bargaining table as of Friday. Lezlie Sterling.

Sacramento, California – A day after Sacramento City Unified superintendent rejected State Superintendent Tony Thurmond’s offer to bring district and union officials together to resume negotiations, union leaders sent a scathing email criticizing district officials.

Sacramento City Unified teachers and district classified staff have been on strike since Wednesday with no end in sight, leaving more than 40,000 students unable to attend classes. Schools were expected to remain closed Monday.

District officials met Saturday with SEIU Local 1021, the union representing classified staff. After the negotiating session, SEIU asked the district to consider additional improvements to the “total overall economic package that meets or exceeds the agreement with SCTA.”

The district’s negotiating team met with SCTA members Sunday afternoon, but details of the talks were not available.

On Friday afternoon, Thurmond called for representatives from everyone involved: the Sacramento City Teachers Association, SEIU 1021, the district, Sacramento Office of Education, officials from a state office that analyzes school districts in financial distress, Sacramento County Supervisor Phil Serna, and Sacramento City Unified Superintendent Jorge Aguilar.

Teachers union President David Fisher announced the meeting with Thurmond as teachers and staff rallied at City Hall and Cesar Chavez Plaza in downtown.

The meeting went on without Aguilar or the school district.

“We are unable to understand your reckless gamesmanship,” read the letter to Aguilar obtained by The Sacramento Bee.

At the meeting, leaders reviewed the proposals and agreed to “an aggressive schedule of meetings that recognizes the urgent need to resolve the strike as quickly as possible.”

The district’s proposal includes a 2% raise, several one-time bonuses, and increased pay for substitutes and nurses.

That was a significant change from a district proposal in December that called for cuts in health care spending, a 1% wage cut and a furlough day for staff.

The average teachers’ wage in the Sacramento City Unified School District is $83,404, less than the statewide average wage of $85,154, according to the district. The district spends an average of $23,393 on benefits per employee, which is greater than the statewide average of $14,958 per employee.

Progress is still at a standstill this weekend after the district refused to meet with Thurmond, a Democrat who won election in 2018 with backing from teachers unions. The last negotiations meeting between the district and the teachers union was Tuesday evening.

“Because this is a local issue, we do not want to circumvent the appropriate process for reaching agreement with our local labor partners,” Aguilar said in a statement. “That process calls for the District to meet with SCTA to resolve these issues and bring an end to the strike.”

Aguilar also called for the union to present a counterproposal to the district’s latest offer, and in a video to the public, said the district’s team is available to negotiation over the weekend.

The teachers union pushed back on the district’s claim that it was waiting for the union’s counterproposal. In the letter to Aguilar, the teachers union released its counterproposal, but added that they had already provided it to the state and district negotiators on Tuesday.

The teachers union counterproposal, obtained by The Bee, included the following: Provide teachers a cost-of-living wage increase in line with a recommendation from a Public Employment Relations Board panel, extend the teachers’ expired contract through June 2023 and drop the district’s proposal for cuts in health care spending.

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