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Yuba City Unified Labor Squabble Starts With Last Year's Salary Offers

Bob Moffitt / Capital Public Radio

Yuba City School District Administers gather late Tuesday afternoon to discuss the strike announcement made by the Yuba City Teachers Union. The strike is set to begin Thursday.

Bob Moffitt / Capital Public Radio

Yuba City teachers say they will strike on Thursday. 

The teacher's union is asking for a 13 percent raise for the previous school year.

The Yuba City Unified School District says its most recent offer is: no raise for last year, 5.5 percent for this year, and 2 percent for next year.

Dina Luetgens is President of the union.  She says district administration recently received raises and the teachers should too.

"Our average salary in Yuba City lags 13.4 percent behind the state average. When you compare the salaries of surrounding districts, we are near the bottom of surrounding districts and because of that, we are losing great teachers."

Both sides accuse the other of failing to negotiate one key point. The union says the district has refused to address last year's salaries.

School Superintendent Nancy Aaberg says that's true -at the request of the union.

"The teachers had asked us to not compromise their right to strike and to not put them in position  to waive their right to strike. And -if there was significant conversation about the '15-'16 school year, it had the potential to waive their right to strike. So, knowing that, we moved ahead for '16-'17 school year. "

The district expects some parents would keep their children out of school at least during the early days of a strike.

The district says it has enough staff and substitutes to cover for the striking teachers.  There are about 700 teachers in the district.  About 80 percent of them voted to strike.

The district says an entry-level teacher makes $45,000 per year with a ceiling of almost $89,000 for teachers with 28 years experience. Aaberg says the district's offer would cap teacher pay at $95,000 next year or $120,000 for a teacher with a higher-education bonus.

According to the California Department of Education, Yuba City teacher salaries are on par with the average salaries from 2014-15, which is the last year they had a contract. Aaberg's salary of $220,000 is about $50,000 -or 30 percent- more than the average superintendent made that year.