The possibility of a teacher strike raises lots of questions UPDATED 8/13

The possibility of a teacher strike raises lots of questions UPDATED 8/13
Posted on 08/11/2016
top

YCUSD Strike Q&A updated 8-13-15

The possibility of a teacher strike raises lots of questions. Here are some frequently asked questions about a strike and the impact it may have on students and their families.  This is updated and offers general information, potential impact to students, and potential impact to teachers. 

General Information

Is there going to be a teacher strike?

This is entirely up to the leadership of the teachers’ labor union, the Yuba City Teachers Association. Only the union can decide whether to call a strike or to return to negotiations and work toward an agreement.

At this time, however, it appears very likely union leaders will choose to strike sometime during the first weeks of the new school year. 

We have asked union leaders to tell the community whether there will be a strike and when it would occur. This information would help families prepare for schedule changes and would help our district make arrangements to keep schools open. We have had no response to this request.

How will a strike affect my child?

A teacher strike hurts everyone involved. Students lose valuable instructional time with their regular teachers, families must adjust to altered or uncertain schedules, and teachers lose a significant amount of pay for each day on strike. 

When teachers strike, no one wins. This is why we have asked union leaders to choose negotiation over a strike and to return to the bargaining table to find a solution that works for our students, our teachers and our community.

Will schools be open during a strike?

Yes. Our district is making preparations for a strike that would allow us to keep our schools open. We are hiring and training substitute teachers, making arrangements for the safety of students and the security of our campuses, and preparing administrators to handle the challenges created by a teacher strike. 

How long will a strike last?

Only union leaders can answer this. Typically, however, teacher strikes can be as short as one or two days. Union leaders may choose to strike over several days, or they may choose several single-day strikes. 

Strikes are intended to cause disruption, and they do. We are taking every step available to us to minimize the impact of a strike on our school families.

What has YCUSD offered teachers?

Since negotiations began in September 2015, YCUSD has made six different proposals to union leadership. Each of these offers sought to address concerns and demands made by union leaders in public settings, but each of them was rejected.

These proposals have included pay raises for teachers that are in line with what unions have received in neighboring districts. [for more on this, visit www.ycusd.k12.ca.us ]



How might the strike impact students?

How will a strike affect my child?

 A teacher strike hurts everyone involved. Students lose valuable instructional time with their regular teachers, families must adjust to altered or uncertain schedules, and teachers lose a significant amount of pay for each day on strike. 

When teachers strike, no one wins. This is why we have asked union leaders to choose negotiation over a strike and to return to the bargaining table to find a solution that works for our students, our teachers and our community.

Should I send my child to school during a strike?

Yes. Our schools will be open and our students will be supervised and educated by qualified substitutes.

Keeping a child at home doesn’t help the student, and it doesn’t help teachers or our community’s schools. Every day that a child is absent, the State of California withholds funds from our district – and 85 percent of those funds go to pay employee salaries.

So, every day a child is out of school, there is less money available for teacher salaries or raises.

Is my child required to attend school?

Yes. The Education Code of the State of California requires attendance in school under compulsory attendance laws which states that “Each person between the ages of 6 and 18 is subject to compulsory full time education.” (EC 48200).  

There are no exceptions made for a strike or other labor action.

If I choose to keep my child home from school in support of a teacher strike, will my child’s absence be excused?

No.  The Education Code sets very specific reasons a child may be absent from school.  A strike is not one of those reasons.  Students with unexcused absences are considered truant, and are subject to the district’s truancy policies.

Will my child be permitted to make up tests and class work missed during an un-excused absence?

Lessons will be made up in consultation with individual teachers.  Keeping a child home during a teacher strike could have serious ramifications on gradesperformance, or attendance.  


When a student is absent from school does the School District lose money?

Yes.  The State of California does not reimburse school districts for days when students are absent without a valid excuse. For every day that a student is absent, the YCUSD loses approximately $56.  Because 85 percent of state funds to our district go to pay employees, imposing a financial hardship on our district creates one for our employees.

Who will teach our children?

We are recruiting and training qualified substitute teachers to fill in for striking teachers. These substitute teachers have the same qualifications as substitutes who work for our district throughout the year. 

Will it be safe to send my child to school during a strike?

Our district is taking every step available to us to ensure the safety of our students and the security of our campus during a strike. We have made arrangements with local law enforcement agencies and with private security firms to ensure that any traffic or access issues caused by picket lines or other strike activities do not compromise student safety.

What will students do in school during a strike?

Under normal conditions, substitute teachers use a lesson plan provided by the regular classroom teacher. In a strike, regular teachers do not leave lesson plans, and substitutes may not have training specific to the courses involved.

For these reasons, substitute teachers during a strike will teach from an “enrichment curriculum” that seeks to enhance skills related to math, language arts, social sciences and physical education. 

What about AP or Honors courses?

There is no question that the best situation for students is to have their regular teachers in class, presenting the scheduled curriculum. This certainly is true for students in advanced courses, where the pace of learning moves very quickly. 

How might a strike impact teachers?

Will every teacher be on strike?

Each employee makes an individual choice whether to participate in a strike. The union can encourage its members to strike, but it cannot force any teacher to participate. Any teachers who choose to report to work during a strike will be allowed to do so.

Will teachers be paid while on strike?

No. Each day a teacher is out on strike, he or she will lose about 0.5 percent of their annual salary. For YCUSD teachers, whose contract calls for 183 work days per year, each day on strike cost them an average in $366 in lost pay.

How does teacher pay in YCUSD compare to pay in other districts?

In 2015, our district studied teacher compensation in 12 school districts throughout our region. This study found that teacher pay in YCUSD falls about halfway between the lowest-paying districts and the highest-paying districts. 

When you consider the fact that housing prices and other expenses are significantly lower in Yuba City than in some of the districts in the comparison, it becomes even more clear that our teachers are compensated competitively with other districts.

Why not just give the union what it wants and avoid a strike?

Throughout the 10 months of negotiations, union leaders have demanded a double-digit pay raise that our district simply cannot afford. Multiple attempts to negotiate a compromise on the demand for a 13 percent raise failed, even as other districts in our region reached agreement on raises in the range of 3 to 4 percent. 

The only way we could grant the demanded 13 percent, across-the-board raise would be to strip funding from other budget categories. This would result in devastating cuts to programs and support systems our community has worked hard to build in our schools, and community members have made it clear that is not acceptable.

How will this issue be resolved?

Other districts in our region have reached settlements that tie a reasonable teacher raise to increased services for students who most need help in school. These settlements allow the use of funds that are designated for helping students and create solutions where everyone benefits. We believe these agreements provide an example that could guide productive talks for our community, provided union leaders agree to negotiate.

 

Educating Today’s Students to Succeed in Tomorrow’s World