Sacramento City Unified School District Provides FAQ on Negotiations

Press release

Sacramento, CA – The following letter was sent from Sacramento City Unified School District to District families about a new information resource on the status of negotiations with the Sacramento City Teachers Association (SCTA) and Service Employees International Union 1021 (SEIU).


Dear SCUSD Families:
We know that talk of a strike is unsettling for families and staff. It is incredibly disappointing that the leaders of SCTA and SEIU are willing to stage a walkout after nearly three school years of interrupted learning due to COVID-related school closures, illness, and quarantines. Please be assured that district leadership staff and the district’s Board of Education want to avoid a strike and remain committed to negotiating in good faith with the leaders of SCTA.
We participated in a Fact Finding hearing on Monday March 7. The Fact Finding report is expected to be made public tomorrow, Thursday March 17. That report will offer recommendations that could be the basis for a possible settlement on COVID-19 related issues. Release of this report is the end of the official impasse procedures of the state collective bargaining law. Nevertheless, we are committed to continuing to bargain in good faith with SCTA and hope to reach a mutually acceptable agreement so we can avoid a work stoppage.
We respect your right to make your own decisions about this dispute based on the information you’ve received from a variety of sources. We have prepared and posted on our website a new Negotiations FAQ that answers questions raised by information that you have received. This FAQ will be updated regularly with additional information. You will also find regularly updated information on the district’s Negotiations Updates webpage
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.
Thank you for your patience, understanding and support as we work to prioritize SCUSD students while addressing differences with our labor partners SCTA and SEIU.  
Jorge A. Aguilar, Superintendent


Just the FAQs

Answers to frequently asked questions about the current labor negotiations between the Sacramento City Unified School District (SCUSD) and the Sacramento City Teachers Association (SCTA). 


Q: Where do negotiations stand between the District and SCTA?
A: The District is negotiating with SCTA on two tracks simultaneously:
One negotiation track is to reach agreements on a set of MOUs that address issues related to COVID for this 2021-22 school year only.  Since we are well into the school year and have not been able to reach agreement with SCTA on these COVID-related issues, the district declared impasse in these negotiations in December 2021. Declaring impasse means we asked a mediator to help. Neutral mediators were called in to facilitate talks, but after several sessions the mediators recommended that both parties participate in a Fact Finding process, which is the next step under California law. A report from the Fact Finding process is expected on March 17.

The other negotiation track is over a successor agreement with SCTA that addresses ongoing issues like salaries and benefits, and other working conditions. The last contract between the district and SCTA expired in 2019, and since February 2019 the district has been attempting to reach agreement with SCTA on a successor contract. Negotiations over the successor agreement are ongoing, and impasse has not been declared over successor contract negotiations.

Q: What are the district’s COVID-related reopening proposals?
A: Because teaching and learning during a pandemic has presented extra challenges, Sacramento City Unified has tried since last July to problem solve and reach an agreement with SCTA so schools could reopen safely and the district could provide the best education possible under the constraints of the pandemic this school year. 
The district’s proposals to SCTA included:

Q: Can’t the district simply implement its COVID-related proposals for the 2021-22 school year since we are nearly at the end of the year?
A: No. The district does not have the authority to give extra pay to staff, including teachers, substitutes, and nurses, who are represented by our labor partners, unless the extra pay is negotiated. The lack of agreement over these COVID-related issues has prevented staff from benefiting from extra pay for taking on extra work related to COVID. Without an agreement, the district cannot assign district training specialists who usually work at the district office to cover classes when there is a vacancy at a school site. Many districts throughout the state use this strategy to address vacancies, and their unions have agreed with this approach. The months-long delay in reaching agreement in our district has made SCUSD’s staffing situation worse.


Q: What is Fact Finding?
A:  Fact Finding is the end of the impasse resolution process mandated by the state’s collective bargaining law. Once labor and management cannot resolve their differences through negotiation, one or both sides declare impasse and ask for the state’s help. During impasse, a neutral mediator is called in to facilitate the talks. If the mediator believes that further negotiations would not be fruitful, they can certify the dispute to go to Fact Finding.

Q: How does Fact Finding work?
A: In Fact Finding, each side designates one person to serve on a three-person hearing panel and an independent neutral serves as the panel chair. Both sides of the labor dispute submit their last best offers along with supporting data and evidence to the three-person panel at a hearing. This hearing is closed to the public. Both sides have a chance to argue their positions and the panel has a chance to ask questions. Once the hearing concludes the chairperson prepares a report. The report makes recommendations that are not binding on the parties. Once their report is made public, the union has the legal authority to strike and the school district can unilaterally implement its final proposals if it chooses to do so.

Q: What issues are within the scope of the Fact Finding hearing?
A:  In its impasse filing to PERB, the district narrowly defined the issues at impasse as those related to COVID to protect continuity of learning this school year. Since it is now nearly the last quarter of the school year, the district is still eager to resolve these outstanding issues in a way that best serves all students.
During the Fact Finding hearing, the district restated its position that the current impasse concerned only negotiations pertaining to 2021-2022 school year COVID-19 related issues and reopening plans. See the district’s March 4, 2022 letter: Scope of Issues for Fact Finding, and March 11, 2022 letter: Supplemental Issues for Fact Finding


Q: Are teachers going to go on strike?
A: SCTA and SEIU leaders have been authorized by their members to call a strike. We believe that a strike would be harmful to our students and families. If SCTA and SEIU strike the district will do its best to keep schools open and safe for students. The district is exploring a number of options to provide appropriate adult supervision on school sites in the event of a strike. Because substitute teachers in SCUSD are represented by SCTA the district cannot hire substitutes to fill in for teachers who are out on strike instead of in the classroom.

Q: SCTA says they voted to strike now because the district will impose a salary freeze and cuts to benefits once the Fact Finding report comes out. Is that true?
A: This is false. The district is unable to impose such changes following the release of the Fact Finding report because the district and SCTA are not at an impasse in negotiations over successor contract issues, including salaries and benefits. SCTA has even acknowledged this. The district is prepared to continue to negotiate on successor contract issues. It is unfortunate SCTA’s leadership is now saying something different and talking about striking over salaries and benefits.

Q: SCTA says that the district has a list of staff names on a new layoff and cut list and it has not been shared with them. Is that true? 
A: This is not true. There is no list. The district did not issue any teacher layoffs this year. Therefore, there can’t be a list of cuts and layoffs waiting to be implemented after Fact Finding.