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The student news site of Amador Valley High School

AmadorValleyToday

The student news site of Amador Valley High School

AmadorValleyToday

APT and PUSD reach a strike-ending agreement

Teachers+gather+in+front+of+the+PUSD+administration+to+demand+a+change+in+their+contracts.
Shimon Arai
Teachers gather in front of the PUSD administration to demand a change in their contracts.

After months of tension between the APT Union and PUSD School Board, the two organizations are on their way to establishing an indefinite agreement regarding teacher provisions. 

From salaries to benefits, the deal has satisfied both sides and has been ratified by voting by the union members. It will be approved by the PUSD Board of Trustees in their next meeting.  The agreement will mark the end of negotiations and possibility of a strike.

“We have some teachers that are extremely happy, and we have others who aren’t happy. We also have some who don’t have any opinions. But most importantly, we have a lot of teachers who are extremely happy because they finally feel more respected and feel we have negotiated a better contract than they have seen in years and never expected that we were going to get so many concessions,” said Spanish teacher and APT Board Member Karen Lord-Eyewe

In the past, efforts by both organizations and third-party panels had failed to reach a consensus on the contract. Teachers demanded fair treatment by the district that showed that they valued teachers and students and wanted to support the schools. The district expressed concerns about declining enrollment and seemed to dig their heels in during negotiations. 

After both parties met with an independent mediator, they went back to the negotiation table to try to come to terms closer to the Fact Finding report with the mediator’s recommendations.Despite the failure of the negotiations, the APT had a special consultative meeting with PUSD officials on Monday, lasting around 14 hours and an offer was agreed to late at night. A vote by the teachers on Thursday approved the new contract terms and a strike was avoided.

“This [Tentative Agreement)] is an increase to the District’s prior offer and exceeds the recommendation brought forward by the Fact Finding Panel. Thank you to the members of both negotiating teams who dedicated so much time and effort to making this happen,” said PUSD officials.

 Portions of a compensation raise of 10% throughout the 2024-25 school year will be allotted in two separate raises for the 2023-2024 school year, but the full 10% raise will not take place until 2024-2025. Additionally, the contract promises Kaiser single-payer health coverage for teachers and a reduction in high school class sizes, which has been a concerning issue for teachers. 

“The contract benefits all teachers, but not in the same way. If you’re at 20 years of service at PUSD, then, you’re just getting a flat 4.5% and 5% raise this year. If a teacher uses Kaiser health care, then they are given Kaiser coverage for single-payer. Not everybody uses the same level of insurance, so not everybody is getting full insurance coverage,” said Eyewe

Recent news also highlights that the district might face heavy budget cuts and potential layoffs due to proposed state funding cuts. In addition, the district is concerned that it may lose up to 1000 students next year due to declining enrollment. If either of those occurred, teachers may be laid off because the district wouldn’t need as many teachers. 

“Yeah, there are teachers who are going to be laid off naturally because of the reduction in numbers. But at the same time, every year we hear ‘the sky is falling, the sky is falling’. This has happened in years past and guess what?  ‘The sky was not falling’. It’s important that we wait to see what really happens and not instill fear and panic in our community with a bunch of  “what ifs” that may or may not ever happen. We’ve got an important job to do and we need to make sure we do everything possible to help teachers get that job done,” said Eyewe

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