SACRAMENTO (CBS13) — The Sacramento City Teachers Association set a strike date for next Wednesday as a ‘last case scenario’ if a mutual agreement with the Sacramento City Unified School District is not agreed on within a week.

The announcement for March 23 was made Thursday outside of the Serna Center in Sacramento, the SCUSD offices, where dozens of SCTA, SEIU 1021, and SCUSD parents and students gathered to protest the standstill.

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The rally fell on the same day results from a fact-finding report were released to both parties. The members of the fact-finding panel included a Neutral Chair, SCUSD Representative, and Union Representative for Sacramento City Teachers.

SCTA ‘concurred’ with the findings, that they believe, answer many of their requests that include staffing and pay increases. SCUSD’s representative wrote that the district dissented with the recommendation of the neutral panel chair on the issue of salary increases, “not because I believe that hard-working teachers do not deserve additional compensation, but rather because discussions of compensation and benefits are part of the ongoing successor contract negotiations between the District and SCTA.”

In a press conference, the SCUSD Board of Education spoke directly to families within the district. The President of the BOE said, “We see you and we hear you,” and urged the union to avoid a strike.

SCTA President David Fisher told CBS13 a strike would be a “last case scenario” and hoped within the next few days, as early as Thursday night, he would be in talks with SCUSD leaders to find an agreement.

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“That’s always the last resort, but we need to do something to stand up for our students to get a teacher in front of every student in the district,” said Fisher.

Fisher added, while there are multiple issues at stake as part of the labor negotiations, the staffing shortages and improvements to working conditions for students are at the center of the discussion.

The negotiations have been in the works for two years, before the pandemic, and issues like staffing shortages have been made worse due to the pandemic, according to Fisher.

Superintendent Jorge A. Aguilar was not available for interviews Thursday and a SCUSD spokesperson directed CBS13 to the comments made by the SCUSD BOE members. In a statement posted Wednesday and sent to SCUSD families, Aguilar addressed the plans if a strike happens. 

In the event of a strike, we would expect that SCTA and SEIU will give us enough advance notice so that we can plan and safely keep our schools open. While this is our commitment to you, we also operate under limitations that may make it difficult for us to keep our schools open. Specifically, because substitute teachers in SCUSD are represented by SCTA the district cannot hire substitutes to fill in for teachers who are out on strike.  We will continue to communicate and will share additional details about what will happen if SCTA and SEIU set a date for a strike.

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If SCTA goes through with the strike it would be the second time in four years the union strikes. In 2019, STCA authorized a one-day strike after a contract agreement had been agreed on by SCUSD leaders and the union. The one-day strike was set as a way to force the hand of district leaders to honor the contract.