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SF Teachers and School District Reach Tentative Agreement, Averting Potential Strike

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A large group of people assembled in an outdoor courtyard.
San Francisco Unified teachers gather at Balboa High School on Oct. 11, 2023, to vote on authorizing a districtwide strike. Early on Oct. 20, the union announced a tentative agreement with the district, averting fears of a walkout.  (UESF via X)

After an all-night bargaining session, the San Francisco teachers’ union and school district officials reached a tentative agreement early Friday morning, averting a potential strike and yielding significant pay raises for full-time and substitute teachers.

Under the agreement, full-time teachers in the district will get a $9,000 pay bump in the first year and a 5% additional hike in the second year of their new two-year contract.

 

“Since we started this process in March, educators and families have been rallying, picketing, fighting for the schools our students deserve,” said Cassondra Curiel, the union president, in a video posted to X this morning, announcing the agreement.

The deal guarantees a minimum district salary of $30 per hour and gives substitute teachers a 15% raise over two years. It also includes language offering substitutes in the highest-need schools an additional $80 per day.

“We are thrilled to reach an agreement with our labor partners that provides our dedicated educators with well-deserved raises,” Superintendent Dr. Matt Wayne said in a press release about the deal. “We recognize and appreciate the tireless effort, commitment, and inspiration they bring to the classroom every day. This increase in compensation reflects our commitment to valuing and supporting our educators and attracting and retaining talented professionals.”

The salary increases come after nearly a year of technical problems with the district’s payroll system, which has led to insurance and tax-filing issues for teachers and left many without pay.

Curiel told KQED that the troubled payroll system continues to be a top concern among teachers.

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“There are still some outstanding issues that have to get paid out on, but we are certainly a lot closer,” she told KQED. “But it’s taken entirely too long, and we need this to be fixed 100%.”

Board President Kevine Boggess said fixing the payroll failures is top of mind for him and other district leaders, but he didn’t share specific plans for next steps with the system.

“The superintendent and his team are actively trying to figure out what it will take to reach stability and move away from our state of emergency,” he said.

Boggess said he was happy both sides came to an agreement and avoided any potential strike, and that he is hopeful the raises and other elements of the new contract will make educators feel more valued and help with teacher retention.

“It’s a real, big first step on the journey we are on to balance our budget and get our fiscal business in order,” he said. “The biggest benefit that I see is that our educators will feel more appreciated and valued and, they will see that through the compensation they are receiving.”

The tentative agreement also includes more support for special education students and community schools, according to the union.

The agreement still needs to be ratified by union members and the school board, but it allays fears of a districtwide strike, which teachers last week overwhelmingly voted to authorize if a fair deal couldn’t be reached.

Teachers and administrators aren’t the only ones celebrating that a strike was avoided.

Maia Piccagli is the parent of a 4th and a 7th grader at a San Francisco community school and president of the school’s parent action council.

“I am hopeful that this decision, and what comes of it, will make it so more teachers who want to teach in San Francisco can stay,” she told KQED. “I just feel really really happy that we are not going to have to plan around a strike.”

The deal follows a separate agreement reached earlier this week between the district and about 1,000 non-teaching staff, including custodians and cafeteria workers, that includes a 16% salary increase over two years.

KQED reporter Billy Cruz contributed to this story.

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