A day after strike, Sacramento City Unified teachers union offers to meet with district

One day after a teachers strike alleging unfair labor practices by the Sacramento City Unified School District, and the district’s call for a “cease-fire,” the teachers union sent a letter chiding the district but suggesting they meet at the end of the month.

“A new direction begins with the district reaffirming its obligation to abide by our contract and to remedy the unlawful, unfair labor practices, including the unlawful layoffs of both certificated and classified staff,” read SCTA’s letter to Superintendent Jorge Aguilar.

The union proposed two dates – April 23 or April 24 – to meet with the district and their appointed state mediator, Joseph Rios.

District officials said they want to solve their fiscal problems, and will review the letter and respond accordingly.

Friday afternoon, it was still unclear how many of the district’s 42,000 students attended classes and how many substitute and replacement teachers worked during Thursday’s one-day strike. The district said it was still processing attendance data from its 75 schools. Employees who process that data, and other administrative officials, worked as substitutes and monitors at school sites before returning to their regular duties in the evening, according to the district.

The district does not report students’ attendance on a daily basis to the Sacramento County of Education, but in three periods over a year, according to SCOE.

The teachers say they are striking because the district conducted unfair labor practices by not honoring their contract.

After the strike concluded Thursday, the district sent a news release saying it had dropped a plan to file its own unfair labor practices claim against the union for what the district considered an illegal strike.

In the release, school board President Jessie Ryan called for a “cease-fire” with the union. “Teachers are the heartbeat of our schools and we need them back in the classroom,” she said.

In its letter to Aguilar on Friday, the union said it was not aware of Ryan’s call for a cease-fire Thursday until reporters asked for comment. However, it sought confirmation of “the District’s agreement to meet and the meeting location to take the necessary first steps toward a more constructive relationship moving forward.”

Several important dates in the coming months:

  • April 24: Certificated staff who received layoff notices will have hearings before any layoffs in the district are finalized.
  • May 2: The judge appointed arbitrator who is mediating a salary schedule dispute between the district and the union will finalize his decision. The arbitrator’s decision is binding.
  • June 20: The district must present a balanced budget by this deadline. If it fails to resolve its $35 million budget gap, it will face a takeover by the state.
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Sawsan Morrar covers school accountability and culture for The Sacramento Bee. She grew up in Sacramento and is an alumna of UC Berkeley Graduate School of Journalism. She previously freelanced for various publications including The Washington Post, Vice, KQED and Capital Public Radio.