Teachers and the Lodi Unified School District are at an impasse over contract negotiations and have called for a mediator. The main issue is salary, but there are many other unresolved issues.
During a protest, 100 teachers held up signs that said, “Support your teachers, support your teachers, honk your horns.” Another sign read, “Teachers go the extra mile, the district won’t budge an inch.”
The district and the teachers have been in negotiations for 18 months and without a contract since last June.
English teacher John Bate says some teachers are losing patience and looking elsewhere.
“My school has lost so many teachers because of this; it’s crazy,” Bate says. “Some of our best teachers have gone to Elk Grove, Sacramento, other districts. They’re going to pay them a lot more, and they’re in a better situation.”
Lodi Education Association President Michelle Orgon represents 14,000 teachers. She says the district proposal falls short.
“It talks about raising the salary of some teachers,” Orgon says, “we feel that every teacher who pours their heart out to kids deserves a substantial raise.”
Attorney Kim Bogard is negotiating on behalf of the district, which has offered a 2 percent raise. Teachers are asking for 5 percent.
“One of the things the district has done is put a contract on the table that is designed to attract new teachers and retain veteran teachers,” Bogard says. “So we are very keenly aware of that issue.”
Bogard says even with a mediator, talks will be lengthy.
“There are a lot of issues other than just financial, so it’s possible that is could take a significant amount of time even if the parties are making great progress together,” Bogard says.
Lodi Unified covers North Stockton and all of Lodi, with 30,000 students and 1,400 teachers.