Inflation is real

Looking below at Table 1, you can see inflation peaked in June of 2022, and COLA was paid out to PUSD the month prior. We received our tentative agreement at the end of March 2022 knowing that inflation was 7.9% in February, yet we rushed through the signing of this contract because we were uncertain what the COLA would be and were not willing to wait. That was a mistake by APT. We signed a contract for 3.5% when inflation was over 8%. Livermore, similarly, signed a too small contract, but when their district was presented with a windfall of new money in May of 2022 (similar to what PUSD received), the Livermore Education Association members began attending board meetings in force. Hundreds of teachers at every meeting, and they pressured the board and management to reopen the contract and received the best raise in the area. This action was organized, it was well attended, and it was powerful.

Consumer Price Index (CPI) from January 2020 through March 2023.

A note about CPI. This number is calculated year over year, so the numbers can sometimes be misleading. For example: the 8.3 in April 2022 looks like it dipped from the month previous, but if you look a year prior, April 2021 jumped up an additional 1.6 over March, and the 8.3 doesn't include this jump, as it was more than a year prior. I point this out because the numbers appear to be waning, as we have seen "less" inflation over the last few months than the year previous, but we are still in a state of inflation, and the inflation that occurred is still burdening us with higher than ever costs across the board. In the next month or two, this inflation number may continue to wane, and the COLA adjustment for the district this year will likely be lower than 5%. This is why our district does not want to reopen last year's contract. If we simply begin negotiating our 2023-2024 contract and abandon our attempts to reopen, management will point to the COLA adjustment in May of 2023, give us a 4% raise, and call it fair. This will leave us so far behind neighboring districts and our best teachers will leave for greener pastures.

We cannot live here

Over the last 20 years, APT has received an average raise of around 1.4% per year, for a total increase of just over 30% over this time. During this time, we only received a true raise above inflation 4 times. This means 16 times we received what is ultimately a pay cut. Additionally, over this time, APT worked with management to reopen a closed contract in order to take a true pay cut in order to preserve class sizes and current staffing levels during the recession beginning in 2008. During that same time, inflation in the bay area has increased by an average of 2.5% per year (75% overall) and the median home price has increased by 150%. In 2003, it took just over 7.3 years of salary to purchase the median house in Pleasanton, now it takes 13.8 years. Because of this, APT teachers are not able to purchase houses in Pleasanton, have to commute in, and are not as connected with the community. Everything is just so much more expensive than it was 20 years ago. Gas was $1.60 a gallon in 2003, now it’s $5, more than triple the cost. Milk and eggs have doubled in cost. A Big Mac was $2.39, now it’s $5.89. We received a whopping total raise of 30% over these 20 years.

Comparison of maximum PUSD salary and median Pleasanton home cost between 2003 and 2023