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Burbank Unified votes for 2% raises for teachers, staff

Burbank Unified votes for 2% raises for teachers, staff
Burbank Teachers Assn. President Diana Abasta led marches throughout the year calling for a salary increase. On Thursday, the Burbank Unified board ended a two-year period without pay raises by voting, 5-0, for a 2% salary hike for district teachers and staff. (Tim Berger / Burbank Leader)

A contentious, two-year negotiation process that included no raises, along with teacher-led protests and marches, culminated in a 5-0 vote for a teacher pay hike during a Burbank Unified school board meeting Thursday.

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The board approved 2% raises and back pay for all teachers and California School Employees Assn. staff, such as secretaries and custodians, along with the prospect of additional pay on the horizon if the district’s proposed parcel tax gets voter approval in the Nov. 6 election.

“It’s a start,” Burbank Supt. Matt Hill said. “We wish we could give more than a 2% raise, but I’m excited to move on to the next year’s negotiations.”

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Hill added, “You take a moment, and you appreciate working with teachers. We all agree it’s not what we want for our employees, but it’s the best we can at the time.”

The 2% pay increase concluded contract negotiations for the 2017-18 school year and is retroactive to July 1, 2017. The money is expected to be on paychecks within the next few months.

“We definitely will be able to do the increases, and we’re pushing really hard to do the retros,” Hill said when asked if raises would be made available for the holiday season. “For the teachers, we should be able to hit it before the end of the year, and we’re still working out on [the California School Employees Assn.]. Our goal is to do all of them before the end of the year.”

The pay hikes are the first for teachers in two years. Longtime district educators went without a pay raise between 2007 and 2014 and endured furloughs.

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The Burbank Teachers Assn. hosted a series of marches and protests throughout the city this past year in order to put pressure on the board. The association also used various social-media platforms to point out pay gaps between local educators and those from neighboring cities, such as Glendale and Arcadia.

The Burbank Teachers Assn. and district negotiators eventually agreed on the 2% raise in September.

Three days of voting by union members produced a 424-76 result in favor of the increase on Sept. 28.

“We are satisfied with the vote,” Diana Abasta, association president, said at the time. “Having 500 people vote is always a good thing, regardless of the outcome.”

All that remained after the vote was for Burbank Unified to submit an amended budget to the Los Angeles County of Education office with new totals that included the raises.

The county approved the revision, which led to the board’s vote on Thursday.

While negotiating for the 2018-19 contract has started, the board and union are now allies in an effort to pass the district’s proposed parcel tax, known as Measure QS.

The 10-cents-per-square-foot annual tax, which has no end and can only be repealed by voters, would cost the average Burbank resident $170 a year and is expected to generate roughly $9 million for the district per year.

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If Measure QS passes the difficult two-thirds voter threshold, teachers and staff will receive a one-time 3% salary increase effective July 1, 2019.

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