Thursday, September 08, 2016

Yuba City Teachers on Strike

District’s Bad Behavior, ‘Take It or Leave It” --
Negotiations Blamed As Cause For Strike
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The 700 teachers in the Yuba City Unified School District (YCUSD) will be on strike as of Thursday, September 8, 2016 because the district prefers to hoard millions in state funding rather than resolve a crisis over competitive pay that will attract and retain qualified teachers in the midst of a teacher shortage. 

The strike notice provided by the Yuba City Teachers Association (YCTA) to the district cited both the disagreement over finances and unfair labor practices as the causes of the strike. “The district’s own actions have put us in this crisis,” said YCTA President Dina Luetgens.  This Yuba City strike will be the first in the area since the Stockton strike in January of 1990. Luetgens noted the response to the strike date announcement from YCTA teachers and community members has been overwhelmingly positive and heartwarming.

“We’re in this crisis because this district continues to ignore the desperate need to attract and retain quality, qualified teachers,” she said.  YCUSD teacher salaries are 13.4% below the state average. YCTA proposed a 13% salary increase to address the pay gap and the exodus of teachers leaving to neighboring districts for better pay and working conditions. The last, best and final offer YCTA received for the 2015-16 school year was essentially 0% on the salary schedule plus one-time pay for extra duties. This from a district that received $17 million in additional state funding that year, which is over a 15% increase in the general fund for 2015-16. Because of its healthy financial status, YCUSD transferred $3.5 million into other accounts, rather than making those funds available to teachers and students.  

Luetgens says the district can afford the teachers’ proposal.  YCTA has also filed unfair labor charges against the district alleging bad behavior, including intimidation, and ignoring information requests or providing inaccurate or incomplete information.


“YCUSD’s bad behavior started at the bargaining table were all the same ‘take it or leave it’ and ‘all or nothing’ packages, some items were re-worded and no substantive changes were offered,” Luetgens added.

YCUSD has denied teachers access to their classrooms by forcing them to turn in and pick up their keys on a daily basis, frightening parents with threats of discipline for supporting teachers during the strike and threatening teachers with discipline if they participate in a strike.  Based on complaints filed by YCTA, the California Public Employment Relations Board (PERB) issued a legal complaint against the Yuba City Unified School District (YCUSD) alleging that the YCUSD violated state law when it adopted a series of board resolutions earlier this summer threatening to discipline employees who exercise their legally protected right to strike.

Luetgens said Yuba City teachers are fed up with making financial sacrifices for a district that does not respect teachers’ dedication, professionalism, or expertise. The district is misleading the community and taking advantage of the hard-working parents in Yuba City who may not realize their school district is running good people out by its disrespectful behavior, Luetgens said. “This type of demeaning behavior does not help the parties reach agreement.”

“It’s time for the Yuba City school board to stop browbeating teachers, to stop disrespecting students, and parents and to stop engaging in deception and intimidation around negotiations,” she declared.  “If the superintendent and the school board think their disrespectful actions towards teachers will have no consequences, then we have news for them.”

Now that a strike date has been called, teachers, speech and language pathologists, nurses, counselors and school psychologists will refrain from educating, and from any other duties, for the duration of the strike. YCTA will organize picket lines, rallies and other actions to make the strike visible and effective. 

“It’s now up to the Yuba City Unified School District to choose to engage in meaningful discussions that provide a fair and just settlement,” said Luetgens. That means a settlement that invests resources in ways that “help improve student achievement by attracting and retaining the best teachers possible, instead of offering sham proposals that are not what they appear to be when you read the fine print,” she said.

“Teachers always have been and still are ready and willing to negotiate,” she added. “We are standing up for our students and the future of our schools and our community.”

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The Yuba City Teachers Association is a chapter of the 325,000-member California Teachers Association, which is affiliated with the 3 million-member National Education Association

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