Classified workers at Vacaville Unified School District continue to show up, speak out
Amid bargaining frustrations, SEIU 1021 members refuse to settle for lowball offers
The fight for more staffing and a livable wage continues!
On Thursday, November 16, over 60 classified Vacaville Unified School District (VUSD) staff members again attended the Board of Trustees meeting to voice their ongoing concerns and frustrations with the District. This follows the November 2 action, where at least 60 members supported each other and shared their frustration with the lack of progress in bargaining due to the District’s ongoing refusal to raise wages above the bare minimum.
VUSD members have been at the bargaining table since May 2023 for a wage reopener for the 2023-24 school year. The parties have now met for negotiations nine times. While board members express their support for and appreciation of the paraeducators, transportation workers, clerical workers, custodians, facilities maintenance workers, student monitors, and child nutrition workers in the District, so far this has not been reflected at the bargaining table.
“It has become an us versus them. It’s so sad. It’s administration versus classified staff. It’s time to look at how we can come together again. This division is killing us. People are leaving. And our kids are suffering,” said Melissa Stoudt, a paraprofessional with VUSD.
Speakers at the rally spoke about their love of their students and their jobs and how the lack of support, manifested through inadequate staffing, training, and wages, has caused many to feel overwhelmed, fearful, and, in some cases, to seek employment elsewhere.
“We want to stay. I have a career that I love. We should be compensated a little bit more. Maybe a lot more. We have a lot of responsibility. I could get a better paying job, but I won’t, because I don’t want to leave,” said Marianna Palmer, a bus driver with VUSD. ”We don’t want to leave our students with anyone else. But we need to bridge the gap.”
As of the most recent bargaining session, the District has still not offered any additional salary improvements to help meet the modest demands of SEIU 1021 members.
“We are important to the student body in every school. And we all come here with different backgrounds, but we all choose these jobs because we want to help,” said Kelly Shores, a paraprofessional with VUSD. “But the cost of living has gone up, and I don’t know how I am going to make it. We’re all struggling.”
If there is no movement at their upcoming bargaining session on November 30, VUSD classified workers plan to flood the next board meeting again on December 14.