How work-to-rule calls the attention of students and the district
Rebecca Beddingfield and Michelle Fong
Clubs have suspended activities, teachers are either not responding to emails or responding to them only during school hours, and teachers have begun to close their doors before school, brunch, lunch, and after school. Many students are frustrated and confused, the only answer given to them being “work-to-rule.”
Work-to-rule is a form of protest where teachers are only working to their contract hours, which determine how much they get paid. Some outside activities are in a teacher’s contract hours, such as advising a club, but by the time the second semester hits, most advisors have spent more than their contractually obligated three hours credit advising their clubs.
“We’re happy to do things outside of school hours, but we don’t feel that we’re being paid enough to justify how much we’re working outside of class time,” says history teacher Ms. Misra.
Many teachers have had an open door policy: coming early to school, staying in their rooms at brunch and lunch to talk to students, and sacrificing time after school to help individual students. They also write letters of recommendation for students applying to jobs and colleges. However, they are not being paid for these types of services.
“My AP Euro teacher walked into our first period classroom ten minutes late on a freezing cold morning… She usually comes into class thirty minutes early to warm up our classroom. These little things, in a students perspective, greatly affect the students more than it being noticed by the administration and FUSD,” says sophomore Shruti Shah.
While these protests inconvenience students, they have been effective in negotiating with the district in the past. English teacher Mr. Howard, the Chair of the Organizing Committee of the Fremont Unified District Teachers Association (FUDTA), explains the results of work-to-rule in the past.
“Last year, we began working to the rule really late, in May instead of January. That didn’t instantly make things better, but by the end of the school year, we did get an offer,” says Mr. Howard.
Many teachers boycotted their school’s graduations, which American’s teachers might have done if the district had not given their offer right before American’s graduation.
Last year the teachers compromised with the school district, but with the disparity between the COLA (Cost-of-Living Adjustment) rising by 4% and the district’s offer to raise salaries by 0.71%, FUDTA wants to secure an amount between those two numbers.
Teachers do not have to be the only ones fighting against the district. Part of the strategy of working to rule is to encourage students and parents to support the salary increase. Students and parents have the most influential voices, and their support is what will ultimately create change. Fremont district board members are easy to contact and can also be changed during elections, so whether you are eligible to vote or not, you can still have an impact on the protests happening around you.
Ms. Johnson’s room was previously open for students who have questions about service hours and for turning them in. Her contract does not cover all the time taken to keep her door open for students, which leaves students at a disadvantage.