Tentative deal on COVID-19 safety could avert WCCUSD teacher strike

Teachers union says it has reached tentative deal with WCCUSD on COVID-19 safety measures
Educators at Kennedy High gather in solidarity with UTR members in calling on WCCUSD to come to an agreement on COVID-19 safety measures. (Photo courtesy of UTR)

By Kathy Chouteau

United Teachers of Richmond (UTR), the union that represents 1,100 educators in the West Contra Costa Unified School District (WCCUSD), has reached a “tentative agreement” with the district regarding COVID-19 safety measures, per a statement on social media Monday.

UTR’s members had been on the cusp of voting to strike due to members’ health and safety concerns.

The teachers union’s tentative agreement with the WCCUSD includes: KN95 masks provided daily for all students and staff; weekly testing at all school sites for the rest of the school year; twice weekly testing for all classes with one COVID positive case; baseline testing after February and spring breaks; an increase in pay for substitutes; and an increase in the period subbing rate and pay rate for elementary educators volunteering to sub additional students.

According to UTR on Facebook, member voting on the agreement is currently underway and will end Fri., Feb. 4 at 3 p.m. If membership ratifies this agreement, UTR said “any potential strike action will be canceled.” However, if the agreement is voted down, the union “will move forward with a Strike Vote and continue negotiating.”

In a statement, WCCUSD Superintendent Dr. Kenneth Chris Hurst thanked UTR “for working with us to keep the safety of students, staff and families at the forefront.”

“We are proud of being one of the first Bay Area districts to implement a robust testing system, moving to KN95 masks and requiring medical grade or 3 ply masks instead of cloth masks,” Hurst said in a statement.

Read the Standard’s previous reporting on the WCCUSD/UTR negotiations here.