The Sacramento City Teachers Association and the Sacramento City Unified School District are on a collision course.
Jeff vonKaenel is the president, CEO and majority owner of the News & Review newspapers in Sacramento, Chico and Reno.
Health benefit savings could have paid for wage increases
The Sacramento City Teachers Association and the Sacramento City Unified School District are on a collision course. The negotiations have been stalled for months. The district has proposed a 2.5 percent wage hike and the teachers association wants 5 percent instead. On May 12, the union escalated the tensions, with the SCTA work council unanimously approving a one-day-strike vote. If the membership approves, then the SCTA bargaining team can set the date for a strike.
The union correctly points out that its teachers are paid less than other California teachers, particularly those in the Bay Area and the big districts in Southern California. The district correctly points out that the costs for health benefits for SCTA are significantly more than other California teachers’. SCTA teachers receive around $20,000 in benefits annually, while the average cost of a teacher’s benefits in California is $13,000.
The union says that the lower wages have made it hard for the district to find qualified teachers. The district counters that if you include the cost of benefits, SCTA teachers’ total compensation is actually higher than compensation in the districts that are the most comparable to Sacramento’s cost of living—Elk Grove and San Juan.
While there will and should be differences of opinion between the union representatives and the district administrators, what is frustrating about this dispute is that it could possibly have been avoided with just a bit more cooperation between the union and the district.
Here’s how. According to the district, the difference between the offered 2.5 percent and the Sacramento News & Review - Basic budgeting - Greenlight - Opinions - May 19, 2016: