Stockton Unified School District teachers demonstrated outside the school district headquarters on Tuesday and voiced their frustrations with labor negotiations during the district's board meeting.

Outside the SUSD building, teachers wore blue to represent district-wide unity and held up signs that said, “More than praise, we need a raise,” “Teacher, teacher what do you see? I see the school board ignoring me,” and “Teachers just wanna have funds.”

The Stockton Teachers Association held the demonstration to fight for what they said is the need for better living wages, fair contracts and more appreciation of their job as teachers.

Teachers say they have been working under an expired contract and were heading back to the bargaining table to negotiate Tuesday night, according to STA President Christopher Anderson.

Jennifer Alvarez, a first-grade teacher, said she and her colleagues would like to have pay increases and wanted to ensure that their health benefits were competitive with other districts.

“We also want to make sure that our time with students and our time off is not compromised and is respected,” Alvarez said.

As the teachers spoke, cars passing by the building honked in support of the many teachers standing on the sidewalk.

Margarita Millan, who is also a first-grade teacher with the District, said she too would like everyone to be respected as teachers and professionals.

“We're one of the only professionals that are expected to donate their time,” Millan said. “Well, we do a lot for the children... We expect to be compensated just like a professional and not expected to be treated like a babysitter or childcare.”

Inside the SUSD board meeting room, teachers also filled the seats awaiting their turn to address board members.

Union president Anderson started his public comment with the words, “Tick...tock, tick...tock, tick...tock,” which got the crowd chanting with him. “Twenty-two months waiting for this contract, four weeks left in the school year,” he continued. “You have two weeks to get us a contract because it takes two weeks to ratify.”

Stockton Unified School District (SUSD) teachers demonstrate outside the SUSD headquarters in Stockton, Calif., on Tuesday, April 23, 2024. The teachers, who have been working under an expired contract, want better living wages, fair contracts and more appreciation. (Victoria Franco/Bay City News)

By 7 p.m., over 15 teachers were slated to speak at the meeting. Before then, one teacher cried while describing working for low pay at the District, and some stated they have had to work multiple jobs to keep up with their finances. Still more said they use their own money to buy supplies for their students.

A District spokesperson put out a release Tuesday about its negotiations with teachers.

“SUSD believes it should be investing in staff,” read the release. “We will negotiate in good faith while ensuring that the district remains fiscally solvent, valuing all our employees.”

SUSD also said its investment in staff compares favorably with surrounding districts.

“A closer look at first-year salaries, with health and welfare benefits, shows SUSD is the most generous in first year teacher take home pay,” the District said.

However, teachers disagree with these assertions and told the board that “the math ain't mathin'” regarding pay.

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