Madera teachers protest for better pay, health benefits

MADERA, Calif. (KFSN) -- Madera teachers protested Thursday to show support for their union currently bargaining for a fair contract.

The teachers were loud and clear about what they wanted, which many of them say is a fair settlement from the district.

The chant 'No cap and a raise' could be heard from across the Madera Unified School District Thursday afternoon.

Hundreds of teachers in red were rallying for a better contract.

Many of them were holding signs as they paraded around the Madera County Office of Education for over an hour, while drivers were passing by showed their support.

CeCe Gallegos is a second-grade teacher and has been teaching for nearly 30 years.

She said she has never seen a turnout this big.

"I'm so proud of my colleagues. What an awesome way to let our school board and trustees know that we want the best for our children," she said.

Madera Unified Teachers Association says its 1,100 teachers are asking for a 4.75% increase in pay, better health benefits, and better class sizes.

"They offered a 1% raise and work five more days and essentially when you work five more days you are taking a pay cut and we've been asking the district to come back and offer a fair settlement," said David Holder, MUTA President.

For most of the school year, the union says they have been bargaining and negotiating with the district.

Now they are at an impasse, one that could eventually result in a strike.

"We are concerned there will be a strike, but we are optimistic because our teachers are dedicated to our students and they, I believe, don't want to strike," said Todd Lyle, Madera Unified Superintendent.

Gallegos says they are ready to do just that if an agreement is not reached.

The district and the union are expected to meet on March 25, and the superintendent says he hopes they will be able to finalize a deal then.
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