On Thursday afternoon, the Sacramento City Teachers Association (SCTA) declared that its members will go on strike on March 23rd.
Prior to the announcement, hundreds of teachers, parents, and children gathered outside the Serna Center in Sacramento.
Teachers had authorized a strike over a week earlier, citing staffing and student support as reasons, but no formal date had been announced. At the Sacramento City Unified School District, the union represents around 2,800 certificated employees (SCUSD).
“As always strike is a last resort and there’s plenty of time between now and that date for the district and the superintendent to come to the table, follow the recommendations of the neutral fact-finders that they wanted to bring into the process and come to an agreement so we don’t have a work stoppage,” SCTA President David Fisher said.
In a news conference held ahead of the march and before the announcement, the SCUSD Board of Education highlighted financial issues, saying the district has struggled to balance its budget for years and has spent more than it receives from the state and federal governments.
A prospective strike, according to leaders, would have a negative impact on their pupils and families, who are already dealing with the aftermath of the coronavirus outbreak.
“Our families will suffer from uncertainty and lack of stability in the event that our schools are forced to close due to the strikes.” SCUSD Board President Christina Pritchett said. “The concern for our students is matched by concern for our teachers, and our frontline staff who are caught in the middle of these situations, So many of them have told me personally, that they simply want their labor leaders and the district to manage negotiations at the bargaining table so that they can focus on teaching and learning.”
Labor agreements, according to Pritchett, must take into account the district’s attempts to be fiscally responsible.
Fisher, who was flanked by cheering teachers on Thursday, said that a strike was their last option.
Leticia Garcia, a member of the SCUSD board of education, said the district and teachers need to establish an agreement so they can address the COVID-related effects that have kept pupils out of the classroom in recent years.
“We’ve all gone through three incredibly rough years. Students are behind. Parents, teachers and staff are tired and burnt out,” she said.
Staffing concerns, according to Fisher, have already caused disturbances at school.
“We understand the issues of disruption. It’s been going on now, pre-pandemic it was bad. It’s gotten worse and to continue to make it worse by demanding these giant cuts in educator take-home pay is just beyond what any reasonable person would be doing,” he said.
The previous two years of COVID interruptions, according to Susan McKellar, one of many participants at the teachers demonstration, have brought this problem to a climax.
“My school, all of the teachers are taking extra classes. We take everybody else’s classes on our prep just to make it work so the kids are in a classroom,” she said.
If no agreement is reached, the teachers’ union and the Service Employees International Union (SEIU) Local 1021, which represents custodians and bus drivers, will go on strike on March 23.