SACRAMENTO (CBS13) — Thousands of Sacramento City Unified students and teachers walked out of school Thursday morning to walk the picket line for the first time in 30 years. Later in the day union leaders addressed Sacramento City Teachers Association (SCTA) members in a rally that had teachers, parents and students fired up.
Teachers rallied outside district offices over what they are calling ‘Unfair Labor Practices’
“It’s just about respect, respect teachers. You made promises.. keep your promises. You expect us to do it—you do the same!” said one teacher who works in early childhood education.
The teachers’ union is at odds with the administration over how to spend health care savings. The union says their Dec. 2017 contract agreement promised to use the money for students, but the district says it should be used to bridge a $35 million budget gap.
SCTA President David Fisher said the strike sends a message.
“We’d much rather be in the classroom working with kids, but sometimes we got to stand up for what is right,’ said Fisher.
Teacher Caleb VaughanBechtold and her second-grade daughter walked the picket lines with hundreds of others voicing their frustration.
“It makes me feel angry because he actually signed that contract and it does exist,” said Reese VaughanBechtold.
“Why not look at the top..where we can cut?” asked Caleb VaughanBechtold.
Superintendent Jorge Aguilar knows emotions are running high, but says the district is committed to serving families.
“Today we will focus on making sure schools are open-that we provide all services that our students and families deserve,” Aguilar said.
The school district says coming to a compromise is critical to balancing the budget before the June 30th deadline set by the Board of Education. If they can’t, a state takeover is certain and could mean a student exodus and school closures.
“Which means after today’s strike we have to double down on our efforts,” said Sacramento City Unified School Board President Jessie Ryan.
The district would not say how much today’s one day strike would cost, only noting the $1.5 million over lost revenue from projected academic daily allowance, security, and teacher replacement costs.
The district issued a statement after the strike Thursday afternoon saying they will honor Ryan’s call for a “cease fire” agreement between the district and SCTA. According to the district, they originally planned to file an unfair labor practice charge against the union, challenging the legality of the strike, but chose to not file the charge.
The district’s full statement reads: “District Administrators and Board Members spent today visiting school sites meeting with and listening to our students, educators, staff and families. The message we heard from our community was clear—they do not want to be caught in the middle of a fight between leaders of the SCTA and District. While our community understands we have a $35 million budget deficit and are at risk of state takeover, they want all of us working on solutions to this problem, not on fighting with each other. We will be honoring Board President Jessie Ryan’s call for a “cease fire” agreement between the District and SCTA. While we had originally planned to file an unfair labor practice charge against SCTA challenging the legality of today’s strike, we have chosen not to file that charge today. Instead, we will focus on working together with a coalition of labor, business, community, and elected officials to avoid a state takeover and address our budget challenges.”