Campbell school district, teachers reach contract agreement after months of protest
Campbell Union High School District and its educators agreed to a new contract this week after months of picketing and more than a year of negotiating. Photo courtesy of Campbell High School Teachers Association.

The Campbell Union High School District and its educators have come to an agreement after more than a year of negotiations and months of protesting.

The agreement, approved at a Thursday school board meeting, includes a $5,000 base pay increase for all teachers, retroactive to last July, and a 3% increase in salaries scheduled to start as of Jan. 1. Educators will also receive additional pay for attending more than 12 special education meetings outside of their workday under the new contract.

The agreement comes after months of picketing by teachers, who’ve flooded school board meetings in red shirts with “Ask me about my pay cut” pins since October 2020. Many educators said the district failed to listen to their concerns during one of the most challenging times fueled by the COVID-19 pandemic.

“I’m not one to dwell in the past, but there are lessons from these past months that I hope we have all learned,” Prospect High School teacher and Campbell High School Teachers Association President Kim McCarthy said, adding she’s thankful of students and parents for supporting the union. “I hope that as we look toward the future, we can also find ways to strengthen communication and trust between the board and the district’s teachers.”

The Campbell High School Teachers Association and the district ratified the contract this week. With 85% voter turnout, the union voted to approve the contract. The school board passed the new agreement unanimously Thursday.

The district and its educators have fought over the contract for more than a year. Educators said the district didn’t value them, with wages failing to keep pace with the cost of living. District officials rebutted that the district had no money for salary increases, even though it’s sitting on $48 million in reserves.

In 2019, the school district and union entered a three-year contract that gave teachers a one-time $4,000 bonus the first year and a one-time $5,000 bonus the second year. A decision on teachers’ pay for the 2021-22 fiscal year was left undecided while the district attempted to pass a parcel tax. The measure failed twice in 2020, leaving the teachers in limbo.

According to the contract, teachers would have received a $4,000 to $8,000 salary increase with a parcel tax. If the parcel tax failed, teachers would get a permanent pay increase of $4,000.

In support of their teachers, hundreds of students walked out of class last October. An online petition organized by Prospect High School student Angela LeDrew to support the district’s educators garnered 24,000 signatures within weeks. In December, the union also presented a vote of no confidence in Superintendent Robert Bravo, signed by 85% of all educators, ahead of a negotiation session.

As tensions continued to rise, the union in January also voted to activate “work-to-rule,” where teachers only work the minimum required by their contract and limit their off-hours availability. The action lasted one week before a tentative contract agreement was reached earlier this month.

As the union gets ready to negotiate its contract for next year, some district leaders hope they can reconcile with educators.

“It saddens me to hear that report from President McCarthy that teachers don’t feel valued by the board,” Trustee Stacey Brown said. “I hope that moving forward that won’t be the case anymore, that we can repair and do better in the next negotiation.”

Student board member Ainsley Bateman also urged the board to work to regain the teachers’ trust.

“This is the time for the board to focus on community building and reinstate the relationships we had before,” Bateman said. “That’s something we can do to show we do care.”

Contact Tran Nguyen at [email protected] or follow @nguyenntrann on Twitter.

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