Over 100 employees with the San Francisco Unified School District protested outside the district’s headquarters Monday, demanding missed or incorrect checks be rectified and paid out — and around two dozen of them spent the night outside the downtown district office.
As KTVU reports, a glitchy new payroll system that was put in place at the start of the year in the San Francisco Unified School District has reportedly left hundreds of teachers without proper payment. Some teachers say they aren’t receiving benefits; some say they’re getting shorted; others say they aren’t being paid at all.
That affects both full-time and substitute teachers, but their union, United Educators of San Francisco, tells NBC Bay Area and others that the system seems to have the most difficulty with employees who work multiple jobs in the district or who are on leave — and it has something to do with missing job codes. The old system had been in place for 17 years, and the new one that kicked in this past January is what seems to be the problem. The new system, EMPowerSF, came with a $13.7 million contract, including $4 million in “transition support” by Infosys, as SF Standard reported.
"We have hundreds, if not thousands, of teachers, paraeducators, counselors, social workers, nurses, and other staff who are owed thousands of dollars," said SFUSD social worker and United Educators San Francisco secretary Leslie Hu during the Monday rally, per NBC Bay Area. "Retirement accounts, health benefits, bank fees, eviction notices, mortgages, have all been impacted."
UESF President Cassondra Curiel said Monday, per NBC, "It is absolutely obscene the kind of negligence we have seen and we aren't taking it anymore."
Regardless of the reasoning, teachers say they feel disrespected. This is only the latest example of what district employees view as slaps in the face. The San Francisco Board of Education is considering laying off 151 teachers, counselors and social workers, along with 51 managers and 62 other staff members in an effort to balance a projected $125 million deficit.
SFUSD Superintendent Dr. Vincent Matthews personally apologized to the protesters Monday, but there are already further protests in the works.
"Let me start with an apology, an apology to anyone who has had a delay in their check," Matthews said Monday night, per ABC 7. "There is no way that should happen. I hold myself accountable."
UESF next plans to take over the board room at the school board meeting Tuesday at 5:00 p.m. Some plan to show up in person, and others will make their voices heard through the live stream.
The union says educators are demanding that they be paid immediately and that district management be held accountable. They also want the system glitched fixed. Further, they want to stop layoffs in the District and create a special designator for missed work that’s specifically due to COVID.
Superintendent Dr. Matthews said the District has brought in 15 extra people to help fix the glitches in the payment system, and that since last Friday an additional 600 to 700 payments have been issued.
Curiel said Monday that the union was demanding that all payment problems be fixed by Wednesday. "This is not a software issue, this is a problem from the decisions made from the very top management and continue to persist into March," Curiel said, per ABC 7.
The union did not specify its next steps, but it did, however, retweet a post about a strike in another district.