WCCUSD teachers overwhelmingly vote to authorize union strike

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Nystrom Elementary in Richmond

The United Teachers of Richmond (UTR), the union that represents educators in the West Contra Costa Unified School District (WCCUSD), overwhelmingly voted to authorize a strike amid an ongoing impasse in contract negotiations with the school district, according to a union statement. The union said 97 percent of the more than 90 percent of union members who participated in the vote supported the strike authorization.

UTR expressed hope that a settlement can still be reached, but said it would begin initial planning for job actions “as we move through the fact-finding process.”

The WCCUSD declared an impasse last month and said it would seek outside mediation to resolve the disagreements. The impasse centers on salary increases for district educators.

The district is proposing a cumulative 10 percent salary increase for this year and next year, while UTR is proposing a cumulative 17 percent in the same period. The union also requests an increase in 2024-2025 in an amount equal to the percentage of ongoing state funding for WCCUSD that school year. WCCUSD has proposed no raise for the third year of the new union contract, according to UTR.

UTR says the state is making cost of living adjustments that is singificantly increasing ongoing funding to the district. Providing adequate salary increases will serve to attract and retain outstanding and deserving educators, particularly amid a staffing shortage, according to the union.

The district cited difficulties reaching an understanding with the union about what a competitive salary offer would look like while preserving the district’s fiscal solvency. In September, the Contra Costa County Superintendent of Schools notified the WCCUSD that the district is “no longer fiscally healthy and is unable to meet its financial obligations.”