1. Our interactions with PAUSD have consistently reflected adherence to the clear terms of the contract we signed with the Board of Education. Some observers have suggested that we intended to deceive PAUSD, either by act or omission, with regard to the raises that went into effect this school year. That is not the case. More than once in the 2016-17 academic year, union leadership did advise district administrators regarding the use of premature assumptions relating to the budget and contract and pointed out that the raises in question could be renegotiated but not eliminated unilaterally. It was PAUSD's responsibility to officially reopen contract negotiations at the proper time if they wished to.
2. We have a legal and ethical responsibility to represent our members and their interests, in accordance with state law and our own bylaws. That is what we have done consistently. To suggest that we should have done more to prod the district back into negotiations is essentially to suggest that we should have acted outside the scope of our contract and without the expressed will of our own membership. Were the situation reversed, we would not expect reporters or community members to criticize the district for failing to remind us to negotiate on our own behalf.
3. The raise in question is both fair and necessary. Teachers, like many community members, are struggling with housing and other costs of living in the Bay Area. There is no greed in accepting a raise that helps us support our families and afford to live in this region. It is appropriate for any workers to engage in good-faith negotiations to secure compensation and working conditions that improve their lives. The district has healthy reserves available to maintain any discretionary funding the trustees see fit to maintain. This raise does not put PAUSD in any financial peril.
4. The money that the district will pay teachers has not been "lost" and taxpayers have not been affected in any way. The funds in question are not disappearing; this money will be allocated to compensation instead of other, discretionary spending. Any new investment in PAUSD's educators is an investment in the future of this district and community, serving the district by supporting the stability of its teaching force, and its competitiveness among local school districts. No tax collections or tax bills will change based on this turn of events.
5. If PAUSD had reopened negotiations on or before March 15, there likely would still have been some pay raise for teachers. Much of the media coverage and commentary in recent weeks has implied that a reopened contract would result in no raise at all for teachers. However, with recent tax revenue forecasts that have been increasingly favorable for the district budget, we suggest it is faulty reasoning to assume that our negotiating team would have settled for no raise at all, or that our membership would have ratified such contract terms.
6. The union is the teachers, and student learning and well-being are our main goals. We remind everyone that the union leadership is made up entirely of teachers and that we serve our members, the professional educators of PAUSD. While not all teachers agree on all issues, one cannot logically separate the union from the union members when discussing situations like this. As teachers, we advocate consistently for policies that help us do a better job for all of our students now and in the future. It is natural and understandable that we do not always agree with PAUSD on how best to achieve our shared goals; that is what negotiations are for. We assume good intentions when disagreements arise and ask that, as you know us through our long-term dedication to your children and our schools, you might reciprocate in assuming our good intentions as well. We like our jobs and want to continue doing them to the best of our ability, in a manner and with compensation that helps us build a future here, together.
Thank you for reading,
The PAEA Executive Board