ROHNERT PARK (CBS SF/BCN) — Demanding higher wages, more than 90% of the local teachers’ union voted to authorize a strike if no agreement is reached with the Cotati-Rohnert Park Unified School District, the Rohnert Park Cotati Educators Association announced this week.

Union leaders said the average pay for district teachers is significantly below the state average, while the cost of living in Sonoma County is among the highest. They are asking for a multi-year agreement that forces the district to prioritize educators in the budget and forces the district to have a multi-year plan to address educators’ salaries.

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“These low wages obviously make it very difficult to recruit and retain the best educators for our students, especially when the profession is in a crisis and there is a shortage of teachers,” said Jim Gregoretti, a math and science teacher at Lawrence E. Jones Middle School and union bargaining chair. “Turnover and retention are real issues.”

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A union official announced the strike authorization vote at the district’s board of trustees meeting Tuesday and the board did not respond afterward.

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