Communication to SCUSD staff on SCTA’s efforts to vote in favor of a strike

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Sacramento, California – The City of Sacramento Unified School District shares the following letter from Superintendent Jorge A. Aguilar that was sent to all SCUSD staff tonight in response to questions and concerns regarding a possible strike in our district:

Dear colleagues,

I have heard questions and concerns from many of our school sites about the Sacramento City Teachers Association’s (SCTA) current efforts to vote in favor of a strike. I know hearing about a potential strike and potential disruption to student learning can be extremely upsetting. In response, I share the following information.

Recognizing that teaching and learning during a pandemic has presented additional challenges, Sac City Unified has been trying since last July to resolve the issues and reach an agreement with SCTA to resolve
COVID-related challenges for the 2021-22 school year.
Our goal was to ensure that schools could reopen safely and that the district could provide the best education possible under the constraints of the pandemic.

The problem-solving proposals we submitted as early as August 2021 included:

After working for months to try to reach agreement with SCTA on these issues, the district filed for a declaration of impasse in December 2021 with the Public Employment Relations Board (PERB). Neutral mediators were called in to facilitate the talks, but after several sessions the mediators recommended that both parties engage in a fact-finding process with the aim of resolving outstanding issues so that an agreement on the issues related to the COVID for this school year can be concluded.

In our
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Filing of impasse at PERB, we have narrowly framed our disagreements as arising from COVID and our efforts to reopen our schools and protect the continuity of learning. Since we are now almost in the last term of our school year, we are always keen to resolve these outstanding issues in a way that best serves all students.

We are on two separate negotiating tracks. The first concerns our school reopening plans related to COVID-19. The second relates to the full successor contract to our current agreement which expired in July 2019. Both the District and SCTA have acknowledged that we are not deadlocked on successor contract negotiations. The fact-finding process we find ourselves in has nothing to do with inaccurate claims about “health benefits” or “wage freezes” that SCTA union leaders have used to induce members of the SCTA to go on strike.

To be clear, the district did not seek the stalemate due to negotiations over an estate contract. As such, the district cannot impose changes to health benefits and other matters as a result of the running fact-finding process because we are not deadlocked on these issues. If SCTA’s union leadership leverages the inquiry process to include successor agreement issues in the hearing, it will allow SCTA to bypass other legitimate discussions about our broader successor agreement and disregard of the purpose of the deadlock process.

A strike will cause chaos for students and families.

After nearly three school years of interrupted learning due to school closures, illnesses and COVID-related quarantines, it is unconscionable that SCTA is threatening to strike to close our schools. This is offensive to all of our families who have been waiting for their children’s school experience to return to normal. Removing student access to the learning time and support services our schools provide is inappropriate. This is especially hurtful and damaging to our most vulnerable students who rely on our schools as safe havens, and families who do not have the luxury of keeping their children unsupervised at home.

Striking employees risk losing income.

A strike will also hurt our employees because they will lose their wages for each day off, which will hurt students, families and employees.

A way forward.

As our district strives to avoid an unnecessary and damaging strike, please be aware that a lot of misleading and false information is circulating. Please refer to the SCUSD Negotiations Updates webpage for specific information, including COVID-19 related proposals and counter-proposals and negotiations updates. I encourage you to demand and review credible source information.

The district remains committed to working through the current stalemate process to reach agreement on COVID-related issues for the 2021-22 school year. We are also committed to continuing succession contract negotiations with SCTA and hope to reach an agreement that is in the best interests of our students, staff and community.

Truly,

Superintendent Jorge Aguilar

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