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Teachers union, PUSD continue 2019-2020 contract talks

Plumas County Teacher’s Association (PCTA) President Suzanne Stirling, a teacher at Quincy Junior-Senior High School, addressed the Plumas Unified School District and its Governing Board of Trustees May 8 in Chester with a heartfelt message about the union’s ongoing contract negotiations with the district.

All five trustees were in attendance for the presentation, including School Board President Leslie Edlund and Trustees Dave Keller, Dwight Pierson, Joleen Cline and Traci Holt, clerk of the board.

Stirling advised the board about issues on the minds of Plumas County educators.

She noted teachers were wearing green ribbons to observe Mental Health Awareness Week the importance of being aware of students’ emotional states. She also mentioned concerns across the nation in the wake of the recent school shootings in Denver, and talked about special trainings PUSD teachers have undergone to help them provide a safe, caring school environment.

In particular, the union president drew the board’s attention to concerns about the housing shortage in Plumas County as well as a considerable lack of affordable places to rent. Stirling described a “reality” for many teachers that finds them leaving the district when spouses find jobs elsewhere because it’s a struggle to find anywhere to live and afford here.

“We actually have teachers losing out on bids to purchase a home in Plumas County,” Stirling explained. She added that new teachers, especially, cannot compete with rising home prices of even a starter home in downtown Quincy where prices are reaching $250,000.

Stirling told the board that Plumas County teacher salaries have not kept pace and the district “is falling behind in teacher pay.”

Contacted the next day after a negotiation session with the school district had concluded, Stirling provided an update as follows.

The contract negotiations between PUSD and the Plumas County Teacher’s Association remain congenial, she said.

“We have been meeting since Sept. 20, 2018, have met two times this week, and we ended today with next year’s contract not settled.”

Chester Junior-Senior High School teacher Shawn Mahaffey is serving as the PCTA Lead Negotiator, according to Stirling.

“PCTA remains optimistic that the district can come to us in early June with an acceptable offer that both parties can agree on,” Mahaffey stated.

Stirling concluded by saying the teachers and PCTA “look forward to our last bargaining opportunity with the district in June, as it is our last chance to settle before we are forced to bargain in arrears next fall.”

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