The Sacramento City Teachers Association said Friday its members have authorized a potential strike to protest what it calls unfair labor practices by the Sacramento City Unified School District.
No date was set for the possible teacher walkout, which comes as the district is facing a $35 million budget shortfall and after high-profile teacher strikes in Los Angeles and Oakland.
Representatives for the union and district said on Friday they hope to work through differences to avoid a strike.
“First of all, we hope not to go on strike. However, the membership voted to authorize it if necessary,” David Fisher, president of the Sacramento City Teachers Association, said Friday.
Fisher said 92 percent of the union’s teachers voted to approve the strike.
He said district leaders have backtracked on a November 2017 agreement to use health plan savings to fund class size reductions and add more school nurses and psychologists. Fisher said the district has also failed to follow through on boosting salaries to recruit and retain teachers.
Alex Barrios, a spokesman for the district, said more negotiation is necessary to implement the 2017 agreement. He said a strike won’t solve any problems.
“We know a strike would put the district on a fast-track for a state takeover and that would only hurt our students, families, and employees and do absolutely nothing to save our schools from that takeover,” Barrios said. "We believe the grounds for a strike are unfounded and lack evidence.”
Barrios added that the district is hamstrung by its budget shortfall.
“There’s not any money for new programs, new expenditures,” he said.
A teacher strike was narrowly avoided in November 2017, when Sacramento Mayor Darrell Steinberg intervened to negotiate a deal.
Steinberg tweeted Friday, urging the two sides to resume negotiations and explore all possible options to avoid a strike.
A joint statement by Sacramento County Supervisor Phil Serna and myself calling for renewed negotiations between the Sacramento City Unified School District and the Sacramento Teachers Association. We stand ready to mediate. @officialSCUSD pic.twitter.com/BHS85Gzwf4— Darrell Steinberg (@Mayor_Steinberg) March 15, 2019
SCUSD has about 40,000 students across 75 school sites. The teachers association represents approximately 2,800 teachers, school nurses, psychologists, speech therapists and substitutes.