Petaluma Federation of Teachers Union Negotiates a Raise for Teachers and Other Specialists


“Money” by superstrikertwo is licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0.

In early February of 2023, the Petaluma Federation of Teachers (PFT), the union that represents all personnel at Casa Grande High School, negotiated a raise that would significantly increase the compensation educators and other personnel that work in the district would receive. 

Different from those that work for a private business or company, teachers and other specialists are on a contract for a set number of hours at a set salary. The teachers at Casa Grande are represented by PFT; instead of teachers individually figuring raises and other benefits, the union represents them when negotiating with the school board. Staffing ratios, personal development days, class sizes, and health and safety issues are some of the items that are in incorporated into a negotiation. The raise is only one aspect of the negotiation.

Casa Grande counselor Shana Freidman is one of the people that represent all PFT members when meeting with the board. “Our team of negotiators represents all grade levels, elementary through high school,” she says. “Our role is to work collaboratively with the district to negotiate a contract that represents all members and is in the best interest of the students.”

To begin the negotiation, the issues that are being negotiated are publicly stated prior to the negotiation even happening. Researching salaries in other districts is crucial to preparing as well as researching appropriate compensation for Master’s and Doctorate degrees.

For teachers, this raise significantly restructures the salary schedule, making it easier to reach the highest tier of income possible quicker. “Teachers make about 20% less than other professions with comparable education and experience,” says Friedman. This is heavily due to systemic sexism. Historically, teaching and working with children has been seen as “women’s work”. Obviously, this is not the case, but the pay gaps have not yet been corrected and rightly adjusted to reflect the copious and enduring amount of effort and care that teachers put into the well-being and success of their students. “The students we serve are our guiding principle!” says Friedman about the driving force behind this negotiation. 

In addition to helping personnel that are already employed by the district, this raise will help to attract talented and qualified educators to the district. Due to the appalling lack of compensation, many people who were initially drawn to the profession were discouraged from becoming a teacher or education specialist. It is a crucial aspect of our society, as teachers are imperative to forming the next generation. Providing appropriate compensation for this absolutely superlative group of jobs today is a step towards the success and prosperity of tomorrow.