New VUEA raise: What does this mean for VUSD teachers?


Photo by Ava Mohror

VUSD teacher and VUEA member Alicia Verdades said, “I think for teachers, part of it [the offer] is the validation that our time and energy is worthwhile as professionals. And part of it is just being able to pay bills.”

Ava Mohror and Brody Daw

VUEA teachers voted to accept a 10 percent raise offer after months of negotiation

On Dec. 18, Ventura Unified Education Association (VUEA) voted yes on an offer from the school board for a 10 percent raise for Ventura Unified School District (VUSD) teachers. 

Alicia Verdades, VHS teacher and member of the VUEA negotiations board, said, “We [voted] for the past in a way, so starting from last July our salary will go up 10 percent. Going forward [VUSD teacher’s salaries] will be 10 percent higher and we will get a check to make [up] for all of those [past months]. This is called ‘on schedule,’ so 10 percent goes on and on again every year. Then the two percent is a one-time bonus, we wanted a higher amount and [VUSD] said they couldn’t do it but they said they could do this one-time bonus.” 

On Dec. 5, Sarah McLaughlin, the parent-teacher liaison of Ventura Unified School District (VUSD), sent an email to parents and teachers of VUSD announcing a tentative agreement for a teacher salary raise with the district office.

Negotiations for a raise have been ongoing since August after VUSD received an increase of over 13 percent for the 2022-2023 school year and only one percent of the funds went to teachers, teachers were offered a two percent raise. This was not accepted by teachers, as they have been asking for a ten percent raise since the beginning of the negotiation process.

After months of VUEA fighting the raise by striking, closing their doors to students during break and lunch, and protesting, VUEA and VUSD have settled on their final agreement of a ten percent raise. VUEA members voted on this raise, and it was passed, with the majority of members voting to approve the raise.

Before the votes were tallied, Verdades said, “I am going to vote yes [on the 10 percent raise agreement] because I think it’s a good raise, and to push for [a higher raise] might necessitate a strike and I don’t think that’s good for students or teachers, if it were necessary for sure we would do it.” 

VUEA did have the option of rejecting this offer and pushing for a higher raise and more benefits added to their salaries, however, this would have most likely led to more severe striking. 

“I really experienced the community and that no one is in this alone. If we come together and work hard and get educated, we can push and succeed. [I felt the] joy of being a part of a bigger group and achieving what all of these people wanted,” Verdades said upon hearing the new agreement.

VHS teacher Claudio Lonardo said, “When I saw the email, It was the first time in a long time that I felt proud of this district. The last few years it has been very disappointing, especially at the beginning of the year when they offered us one percent.” 

Lonardo said, “I am proud of us because we worked hard for this. This is also a lesson for our students to understand when you fight for the right cause you just keep fighting and hopefully you get the result you want.” 

Photo from the first VUEA teacher protest that took place on Nov. 17. “We [VUEA members] worked really hard and there was so much support from all the teachers in the district wearing red t-shirts and showing up at board meetings,” said Alicia Verdades. Photo by: Brody Daw
VUEA teachers did their fair share of fighting, including two protests held on Aug. 23 and Nov. 17 at the Ventura Government Center, where teachers marched with signs and showed their support through their red clothing. 

Verdades claimed this has not been a solo journey for VUEA members. She said, “We didn’t feel like we were alone, all of these people were behind us and rallying on us and I felt they came through for us.” 

The VUEA Instagram page, @vueastrong, also did its share of rallying support. The Instagram page promotes continuing to wear red, even after the offer was accepted, with the hashtag #REDFORED. 

Students showed their support for VUEA by writing messages and putting posters on their cars, wearing red to school and participating in the walk-out organized by Caylin Mobley ‘23, Jaden Elizondo ‘23, Mateo Navarro ‘23 and Sinthia Cardenas ‘23 on Oct. 21, 2022.

Mobley helped organize the student protest for the teacher pay raise. Mobley said, “As a student, it’s really cool to see how much can change if people work together. I’m really happy for the teachers and I hope the district and union can work together in the future to prevent something like this from happening again. I’m also happy that teachers will start tutoring again. Going forward, I think that our teachers will feel more supported and seen because of this situation.” 

Lonardo said, “Sometimes you feel like ‘Oh, it’s never going to change, it’s never going to change.’ [. . .] if we have an issue and you feel like ‘It’s our right to do this,’ then fight. That’s the only way small changes can happen.”