UNION CITY (KPIX 5) — An East Bay school district is preparing for its first teacher strike in history. About 585 teachers, counselors and nurses in the New Haven Unified School District plan to walk the picket lines on Monday.
The district serves about 11,000 students in Union City and two schools in South Hayward.
Contract negotiations between the teachers union and the district broke down Wednesday. The union is asking for a 10 percent raise over two years. The district said they would have to make cuts to afford any raises for the educators.
New Haven Unified said its educators are the highest paid in Alameda County, averaging $96,554 a year. But the union claims the teachers pay for healthcare costs out of pocket.
Eighth grade teacher Aileen Pagtakhan said the strike is about retaining teachers and improving education.
“I feel ready to go, [but] still anxious and nervous,” said Pagtakhan while making strike signs at union headquarters Thursday afternoon.
Pagtakhan said she’d rather teach on Monday than to walk the picket line. But she believes a pay raise will help to retain good teachers who have left due to the high cost of living in the Bay Area. Both she and her partner work for the district.
“If we go on strike, we’re both prepared for the [financial] consequences that are ahead,” said Pagtakhan.
Some people question the timing since students go on Summer break mid-June.
“It’s more helpful to have it now rather than later. We also know there is no great time for a strike. It’s about the impact of when we can get our message across,” said union president Joe Ku’e Angeles.
Some students plan to stay home on Monday.
“We just want to support our teachers. In not coming to school, we’re doing that,” said James Logan High School senior Lilliana Guardado.
But not every student supports the strike.
“These teachers chose their profession. They knew what they were getting into,” said James Logan High School senior Austin Juarez.
Juarez and many high school students worry a long strike could hurt their grades and college admission.
“If they go on strike and if I want to get my final transcript and all that, that might be delayed for some time. So I’d have to contact the college to let them know,” said Juarez, who will be attending Cal State Sacramento in the fall.
Both sides have a few more days to avert a strike. But it’s looking unlikely since there are no plans to negotiate before Monday.
The district will have substitute teachers and administrators to keep the schools open on Monday.