By Karina Gamez and Michael Sagum
Author’s Note: Michael and I shall be releasing a series of articles in the next couple of weeks dedicated to informing the student body on teacher salaries, the role of district funding, as well as updates on the the teacher bargaining process. This is the second installment. Click here to view the first.
Teachers are human beings who we, as students, are legally required to see five days a week. They are the people who educate us, who make us more informed and open-minded, who shape our passions, who challenge our mentalities, who demonstrate to us our very own potential, and who, most importantly, believe in us.
But teachers are dealing with some concerns in their own lives. In a survey conducted by AFT Local 1481, an astonishing 87% of teachers have reported to be either dissatisfied or very dissatisfied with their salaries.
This past week, we interviewed and combed through a plethora of people and resources to try and understand the complexities that reside within the Jefferson Union High School District when discussing sensitive topics such as teacher pay. Before we move forward with the article, one should first become familiar with an association called AFT Local 1481.
The American Federation of Teachers Local 1481, also known as AFT Local 1481, is a union made up of 500+ JUHSD employees that consists of 60% certificated staff (our teachers and counselors) and of 40% classified staff (our secretaries, office workers, custodial staff, aids, etc). The only people exempt from the union is the administrative staff and cafeteria employees. The purpose of having the union is to protect certificated and classified staff from potential exploitation.
This spring marks a turning point for AFT 1481 and the Jefferson Union High School District, as they shall be renewing their contract and embarking on a process called “Collective Bargaining.” According to a newsletter released by Sergio Robledo Maderazo, AFT 1481 President, and Kevin Murphy, AFT 1481 Membership Chair, “Collective bargaining is when workers come together and meet with their employer to make changes to their contract, the document that spells out the terms that govern [their] working conditions.” Ultimately, these negotiations will be a crucial thing for our teachers.
During negotiations days, there is little that can be presented to the public. However, the newsletter went on to state that potential negotiation conversations include: wages, hours and fringe benefits; worker duties and responsibilities; health and safety in the workplace; employee discipline; grievance procedures; layoff and employment rights; union security and rights; etc. On March 6th, there will be a public meeting at the district office officially presenting what parts of the contract will be renewed.
“I don’t know much about teacher salaries nor the union they have,” stated Mitchell Tran, Senior at Oceana High School, “But teachers do a lot. When I was a sophomore, I took AP calculus under the teachings of Mr. Yuen and having such an influential teacher be so engaging and charismatic really changed my perspective on Math. In fact, I hope to pursue a career in teaching, specifically high school level calculus just like Mr. Yuen. He is not only my mentor in this, nor just Senior Ex, but also my mentor in life.”
And Mitchell is not the only one.
Many of us, all over our campus and our district, grow to have close ties with our teachers, and, often times, we see them more than our very own family members. Teachers shape our minds and serve to be our mentor in many aspects of our lives. It is vital that we, as students, take the time to understand this crucial part of their job which can determine for many, if they stay or go.