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Fremont Teachers Consider Controversial Tactic In Pay Negotiations

FREMONT (KPIX 5) – East Bay teachers fighting for a pay increase are threatening to protest by doing the bare minimum in the classroom.

"Our teachers at American are very supportive," said American High School student Abdel Elkabbany. "They always go the extra mile -- even if they're not asked to. Even if they don't get paid for doing extra things, I feel they will do extra things."

However, that might change if teachers at the Fremont school aren't able to negotiate a pay raise with the district.

Teachers are considering a controversial tactic known as "work to rule" in which they would do the bare minimum required by their contract, only working from the start of their first class until the school bell rings at the end of the day.

"The vast majority of our educators do voluntary work essentially for free. It includes tutoring before and after school and during lunch. And those things would not get done," said Teachers Association President Victoria Birbeck-Herrera.

The district has offered teachers a one-time, 1.33 percent bonus, but educators say it's not enough to keep pace with the bay area's high cost of living and want a permanent raise.

A spokesperson for the school system said the bonus is the best the district can do without breaking the bank.

The official said that the two sides, "need to make sure that we're able to find responsible ways to balance the budget while also increasing compensation. It's not an enviable position to be in, but I'm confident in the power of Fremont Unified staff working together."

The teachers' association hopes just the threat of "work to rule" will encourage students and their parents to put pressure on the district to break the budget impasse.

"We would not jump into something like 'work to rule' immediately or without careful consideration," said Birbeck-Herrera.

"I feel like teachers in general don't get paid enough. And it's a big issue," said Elkabbany. "It just shows how little respect and value we put on education in this country."

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