Teachers In The Mt. Diablo Unified SD Have Threatened To Go On Strike In Order To Get Better Pay

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Teachers queued up on both sides of the road in front of Sequoia Elementary and Middle schools for around 45 minutes on Friday morning. They are now threatening to walk off the job if the Mt. Diablo Unified School District does not give them a substantial salary hike.

At the morning rally, signs and shouts demanded that the district grant teachers “fair contracts.” The Mt. Diablo Education Association is requesting a pay raise of 12.5%. Teachers claim that the figure reflects the level of inflation and cost of living since 2017, when teachers last received a rise.

“Some of these teachers have to work two or three jobs,” said Jane Baulch-Enloe, a teacher for more than 20 years at Sequoia Middle School. “You shouldn’t have to work two or three jobs when you have a master’s degree.”

Negotiations for the following three years’ contract are still ongoing. Since June 30, 2021, teachers have been without one.

“We’re just ways about from what teachers are demanding and what the district can afford within the constraint of our budget,” said Superintendent Adam Clark.

Meeting the requests of teachers, according to Clark, would cost tens of millions of dollars. According to him, the district would have to make a number of employment and budget losses to make it work. He does agree, though, that teachers deserve a raise in compensation.

Instead, the district is proposing a 7% raise over the next three years, with a one-time 3% bonus this year. Due to money left over from emergency COVID-19 financing, Clark says a bonus this year is conceivable, but the money cannot be utilized for long-term wage increases since it is a one-time stipend from the state.

Some teachers argue that this is insufficient.

“We haven’t had a wage increase since 2017, so five years,” said Ernie Minglane, an 8th grade teacher and parent at Sequoia Middle School. “7% is not enough. It should be about 12%, in order to meet the cost of living.”

Instructors in Mt. Diablo are paid less than teachers in surrounding school districts, according to the union, who claims that teachers are fleeing the area for greater income.

“We understand that we’re both going to have to give to come up with that agreement,” said Clark.

As part of a protocol from California’s Public Employment Relations Board impasse procedure, representatives from both parties will meet with a three-person fact-finding committee.

The team will provide a report with compromise proposals next week, most certainly. Those suggestions are non-binding, and teachers have stated that if they don’t like what they see in the report, they will go on strike immediately.

“That is not what we want to do,” said Baulch-Enloe. “I don’t want to strike after working for this district for 27 years”

“I’m extremely concerned about that,” said Clark. “I want to avoid a strike, however, I can’t mortgage away our students’ financial future within the district, agreeing to a wage we cannot afford at this time.”