UACT needs to negotiate a better deal for teachers

For the past year, the teacher union Unified Association of Conejo Teachers (UACT) and the Conejo Valley Unified School District (CVUSD) have been negotiating about salary, caseload, health insurance, etc. However, the tentative agreement does not sufficiently meet the needs of our teachers.

Teachers have not been getting paid enough, and this new tentative agreement is offensive to teachers who deserve smaller class sizes and a fair raise. The agreement also says there will be a class size cap average from 42 to 40, but that is the average class size, so if a teacher has one smaller class, then they could theoretically still have a class with 45 students.

This is only trying to solve the PR problem, and not getting to the root of it. Just earning a living wage is not sufficient for the high cost of living in this area and supporting a family.  According to Living Wage Calculator MIT, teachers in Ventura County have an average annual salary of $51,631, but the cost of living for a family of two adults and two children is $82,187, meaning that the average teacher in the Conejo Valley would not be able to provide for their family unless their spouse was also working, and their entire salary would be dedicated to those costs.

Furthermore, a teacher who is also a single parent would have the average expenses of $63,703, meaning that annually they would need to find an extra $12,072 to pay for food, housing, transportation, etc.

The fact that the school district is not paying our teachers enough is already a problem, but an agreement that gives them a two percent raise, after they have not gotten a raise for two years, is a joke. Many teachers have stated that in order for their jobs to be sustainable, they would need a raise larger than two percent, and this two percent raise will not change the fact that these teachers need to work long hours, for a salary that may not be enough to provide for themselves.

The agreement also says that the district will, “Commit to finding $250k in Health Benefits changes by February of 2020 or In Network Out of pocket maximums will increase from $2000-$3000 for an individual and $4000-$6000 for a family,” and we certainly hope the district can find these funds. However, the agreement states only a few lines later, “We did not agree to changes to Health Benefits,” which means that the district will find the funds for health benefit changes in the future, putting off any changes until 2020.

Who came out of this deal the winner, the district did, because although the teachers got a raise, it was only two percent, and the district gets to delay the health benefits issue, and even though average class size was reduced, it was only by a little bit, and the average is still pretty big.

We understand that the district does not have unlimited funds and can not do whatever teachers want, however these teachers at the very least deserve better negotiations from their union, and certainly better than this deal.

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