Chico teachers protest stagnant wages

Nov 21, 2014 1:28 PM by Alyssa Deitsch

The Chico Unified School District and the Chico Unified Teachers Association, the union representing Chico public school teachers, are at an impasse. Nearly nine months of negotiating teacher wages and benefits have come to a standstill.

CUTA wants a wage increase of eight percent. CUSD has offered a two percent increase in pay.

Hundreds of teachers across Chico began protesting Thursday morning saying they haven't seen a pay raise from the district in years.

"I have a friend who's a second year teacher, he's talking about getting a second job right now," said Paradise Valley High School teacher Lance Brogden.

But CUSD Assistant Superintendent Bob Feaster says "most teachers have gotten an increase in pay, not because of cost of living, but because of moving up."

Teachers get an increase in salary every year they work for the district and even more if they further their education. But their salaries have not been adjusted for cost-of-living.

"We haven't had any cost of living adjustment for seven years," Brogden said.

But Feaster says at the start of the great recession, they had their budget cut by 20 percent.

"I think the math speaks for itself," Feaster said. "There's a reason we haven't been able to offer a salary increase because the budget is just coming back to where it was in [the 2007-2008 school year]."

The CUTA is requesting an eight percent pay increase for their teachers plus more benefits, including the district fully covering their medical plans.

"Value us, invest in us, and respect us," is what Brogden says he wants from the district. "We want to be working hard for kids. I don't want to be out here doing any of this. I want to be planning lessons and working with kids because that's my passion."

CUSD offered a two percent wage increase back in March.

Feaster says if they were to accept CUTA'a eight percent raise request, "the district would go bankrupt."

"The district has not changed their offer one bit which is a minimal, low-ball offer which unfortunately has been their habit," Borgden said.

If teachers aren't happy with the negotiations, Brogden says this protest could turn into a strike. "What's unfortunate is we have to do this type of behavior to get the district to pay attention, he said.

"I personally believe that teachers ought to be paid like baseball players. But the economics are, we're not able to do that, Feaster said.

A mediator will meet with the district and the union December 19th, in order to get them out of this impasse and into a compromise.

If you want more information, the Chico Unified School District has provided a fact sheet here.


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