Teachers, Williams Unified reach tentative agreement to avoid strike

Williams Unified School District teachers won’t walk off their jobs after reaching a tentative agreement with the school district on Friday.

After a year of negotiations and an impasse that threatened a teachers strike, the Williams Teachers Association and school district agreed to a concession that amounts to roughly a 2.6 percent increase for all teachers, and an additional 1 percent increase for teachers at the beginning of careers with the school district, and at the end.

Union officials said the two-year agreement includes a restructured salary scheduled that, when finalized, will attract and retain qualified teachers to the Williams district.

“This agreement is the result of hard compromise after countless hours of dedication by our negotiations team,” said WTA President Tony Hermann. “Our focus has been on getting a settlement, and, if possible, avoiding a strike.”

The agreement specifically adds $89 a month to all Williams teachers’ health benefits, retroactively to July 1, and increases that to $189 in the next school year, essentially raising the cap on benefits from $711 a month to $900, Hermann said.

The agreement also gives a 1 percent pay raise to teachers in their first three steps on the pay scale, and an additional 1 percent increase for teachers that have been in the district for more than 22 years, up to 28 years.

Hermann expressed deep gratitude to the Williams’ parents and community.

“We saw how much this community values and supports its teachers,” he said. “That means the world to us and strengthens our resolve to make Williams an even better school district as we move forward.”

The school board is expected to vote on the agreement at their Nov. 16 meeting.

The agreement also proposes contract language changes to the work year, hours and length of workday, and other teaching and learning conditions.