The union representing public school teachers in The City has passed its first hurdle to potentially strike should United Educators of San Francisco and the San Francisco Unified School District continue to remain at odds over a new contract.
On Thursday, 2,235 – or about 99 percent – of the 2,251 teachers and para-professionals who turned out at the union’s general membership meeting favored holding a second strike vote if UESF and the district cannot agree on wages and other conditions, union spokesman Matthew Hardy told The San Francisco Examiner on Sunday. The move came days before the district is set to begin the new school year today.
“What I think it speaks to is the frustration of teachers and para-professionals with negotiations so far and what the district is offering,” UESF President Dennis Kelly said of Thursday’s strike vote.
Last April, UESF – which has approximately 6,000 members – called for a 21-percent pay raise over the next three years, a move the union says will help allow teachers to continue living in The City despite drastic cost-of-living increases.
The district in May countered with a proposed salary boost of 8 percent over three years for teachers, which district officials increased to 8.5 percent in June to amount to raises of 2.5 percent in 2014-15, 3 percent in 2015-16 and 3 percent in 2016-17.
Also in June, the Public Employee Relations Board granted the district’s request for an impasse. Teachers cannot legally strike until the district and union have concluded the impasse process, which includes mediation, fact-finding and post fact-finding discussions. Mediation is not yet finished.
The next general membership meeting, when the union could vote whether to strike, has not been scheduled.
Kelly said that if teachers vote to strike, it likely wouldn’t happen until late September or early October. The SFUSD has seen four strikes, most recently in 1979.
“It’s not a matter that people want to go on strike, but a strike is the way that employees, teachers and para-professionals have of expressing their refusal to go along with what the district is doing,” Kelly said.
Superintendent Richard Carranza said on Saturday that state funding for teacher salaries has not increased enough to keep up with the cost of living in San Francisco, though the district is committed to providing employees raises.
“We remain hopeful that we can resolve our differences and reach a fair and equitable compensation agreement,” Carranza said in a statement.