Union leaders are pushing for back pay from a recent Sacramento teacher strike in which they claim the district was acting in bad faith.
It is not common practice to pay employees who are on strike. Some unions may have measures in place that pool funds to shell out to strikers during that period of time, but employers are not required to continue paying their employees while they are actively out of work. However, this may not be the case for teachers in Sacramento, California who went on strike earlier this year. Months later, the district may not be required to hand out back pay to all the teachers who participated in this year’s teacher strike.
Early in the spring of this past 2021-2022 school year, educators working within the Sacramento City Unified School District (SCUSD) engaged in an eight-day long teacher strike over various COVID policies. In the end, bargaining led to a rise in teacher pay, and much more in favor of employees. But according to The Sacramento Bee, that wasn’t enough, as a state labor agency is fighting for union members to be paid for that missed work by the district.
In the complaint, it is alleged that the school district acted out of bad-faith bargaining both during the teacher strike and afterward. It all appears to stem from the fact that during the nearly two school weeks worth a time that the teacher strike was active, the district was believed to have excessively paid substitute teachers to keep classes running. Now, the agency filing suit against the district is demanding that the teachers who participated in the strike should be paid at the same rate the substitutes were for those missed days.
David Fisher, the President of the Sacramento City Teachers Association told news outlets that it’s not necessarily about the missed eight days of pay during the teacher strike. Instead, the union leader said it’s about the principle the union wants to set going forward. The hope is that by seeking these demands for pay, the union will send a message to the district that they will not tolerate what they feel is immoral behavior by district leaders.
Furthermore, the complaining alleges that the school district was misleading in its actions during the teacher strike. In the beginning, the suit states that the school district notified all school staff that campuses would shut down, while also iterating that employees needed to show up to their positions as normal. Therefore, the claim is that this was done in a manner to confuse union members. In the end, the district did pay employees who reported to work during the period of the strike.
The district remains strictly behind there stance that it acted properly, and in no way participated in bad-faith bargaining tactics. To this, they pointed out that they met the requests and demands of union members who participated in the teacher strike. Other than handing out pay raises, the district gave out one-time stipends for all three of the past school years that were affected by the pandemic. Additionally, the district noted that it laid out multiple options for the teachers union to choose from for ways to make up for lost time during the strike.
For now, the case awaits the decision of a judge as to whether or not the district will be required to pay for missed work days during the teacher strike. Resonating on the state of affairs surrounding the failing public education system, this case echoes with critics of the nation’s teachers’ unions, who many feel are now corrupt and not working in the best interest of educators and students. Long being a backbone of American education, some feel that teachers’ unions now only serve as a hindrance to education.