Labor negotiations between the Turlock Unified School District and the Turlock Teacher’s Association, which represents the 700 teachers in the school district, are apparently beginning to turn sour.
During the TUSD Board of Trustees meeting on Tuesday night, TTA President and Turlock High School teacher Julie Shipman said Turlock teachers have gone from the best compensated in terms of salary and benefits to eighth best in all of Stanislaus County.
“Teachers are not flocking to Turlock like they used to,” said Shipman. “As negotiations continue the meat of the issues have not been addressed. The district is not up to standards, the contract it is outdated and not working well.”
She compared the current contract’s compensation packages as “patch work.”
Last year TUSD teachers received a 1.5 percent salary increase, which is far below the countywide average increase of 2.8 percent.
Under the current contract, a teacher in their first year, under step 1, column 1, is paid $47,888 salary and at the top end of the pay scale a teacher in step 30+ years of service in column 8 (BA + 75 units post-grad with a Masters) makes $90,766 salary.
Shipman pointed out the many ongoing issues teachers and the district have clashed over in recent months.
In the 2013-14 school year TTA filed three Unfair Labor Charges against TUSD and eight grievances on behalf of teachers and numerous are awaiting a judge’s decision in Sacramento.
Seven of those grievances are on behalf of current or former Crowell Elementary teachers who were involuntarily reassigned to new grade levels, which TTA believed were made “arbitrarily and capriciously, and some as a means of punishment” by Crowell Principal Linda Alaniz. The grievances are still in advisory arbitration.
One of the Unfair Labor Charges is regarding teacher’s compensation for TUSD mandated or school site specific faculty meetings and professional development time related the Common Core State Standards.
A third labor charge concerned paying teachers per diem rates for when teachers were told to transfer schools after the 2013-2014 school year began. According to the TTA, at an informal hearing on Aug. 21 in Sacramento, TUSD officials refused to agree on a settlement that would have resulted in paying only $1,500 to a group teachers. Instead, TUSD opted to go to trial and pay extensive legal fees rather than fairly compensate employees who moved classrooms over the weekend to start a new school year, many in a new grade level.
The TTA and district are expected to meet again for negotiations near the end of this month.