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ABC Teachers and Nurses Rally at District Offices for Fair Pay

HUNDREDS of teachers and nurses rallied at last Tuesday’s ABCUSD Board Meeting. They have worked two years without a contract, negotiations are still ongoing. Photo by Tammye McDuff.

February 18, 2022

By Tammye McDuff

The ABC Teachers Federation held a rally at the District offices, this past Tuesday. Hundreds of teachers showed their solidarity with a march and picket signs, while passing vehicles honked their horns and 18-wheelers blasted their bull horn stacks. 

Even Mother Nature seemed to add support with well-placed thunder and lighting.

Amid protest chants and beating drums, the teachers marched around the district offices. Ray Gaer, president of the ABC Federation of Teachers stated, “The teachers and nurses of ABC are participating this evening to support a general slowdown of work. There are clearly members that would like to participate in a stronger labor action; however, the ABC Federation of Teachers would like to create only the necessary amount of pressure on the ABC School Board members to encourage them to take another look at the value of their employees. “Teachers will not hold before school or after school extras such as tutoring. Gaer also noted that they will stop creating extra lesson plans for students impacted by COVID-19 and unable to attend class in person, something they have been doing ‘in their spare time’.

“We are sending a message to the school board!” began Gaer, “how did we get here? I ask myself this question every day. This agreement should have been settled months ago. The school Board continues to ask us for more and more and more overtime and over reach. We have no more to give.”

Gaer continued saying that teachers and nurses need to worry about their own health and their families. “When the board comes back with more demands and more concessions it is a ‘non-starter’ for ABC AFT.

When negotiations began two years ago, the Board had a clear vision of what needed to be done. “Negotiation is about compromise, give and take. For the last 20 years we have had a good partnership with the administration. Unfortunately this current school board, except for Dr. Apodaca and Dr. Rios, does not understand collaboration.

“What happens in the spirit of compromise is the agreement of working relationships,” continued Gaer, “This is not the district I fell in love with 25 years ago.”

Gaer siad the last few years of working through the pandemic has understandably caused chaos with students, families and in the schools.

The demand put upon teachers and nurses has been tremendous. And while schools have reopened, the administration is asking even more from the teachers.

“The district is sitting on the largest financial reserves it has had in two decades. Teachers and nurses take on extra work because they are professionals and they know they are providing their students with the tools they need to succeed, they are professionals and need to be treated as such.”

While there is no indication that a strike is looming, the move towards a “work slowdown” certainly points union officials into believing this would be the next step. Gaer noted that, “they’re at kind of a breaking point,” when referencing the teachers and nurses in the school district. “We’re asking the district to get to an agreement as soon as possible so this does not impact the students further.”

A statement sent into HMG-CN last week from ABC President Soo Yoo stated, “As President of the Board of Education for the ABC Unified School District, I am committed to helping our staff provide the best possible education for our students. I believe the teachers and staff members have demonstrated their dedication to students and families throughout the pandemic. The district began negotiations with ABCFT last fall. It’s important to remember that negotiating is an active process between two sides working towards common ground. The current items discussed with ABCFT and  Board in closed sessions are confidential. Although I cannot speak as to the specifics of the negotiations, I can tell you that both the district and ABCFT negotiating teams continue to meet and work together towards an agreement. I believe that the Board’s action in previous years clearly demonstrates the commitment to supporting teachers.  ABCUSD has maintained a strong partnership with the ABC Federation of Teachers for over 20 years. This partnership has served as a model for many school districts across the region, state, and even nation. Because of this partnership, I remain optimistic about both sides coming to an agreement.”

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