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Stockton Unified School District workers ratify first union contract 

A year after 50 Stockton Unified School District therapists organized with NUHW, they have achieved equitable pay and working conditions with their co-workers by ratifying their first union contract. 

The workers, which include certified behavior analysts, mental health clinicians, occupational therapists, and physical therapists, unanimously ratified the three-year agreement, which includes an 8 percent across-the-board wage increase, $7,500 in bonuses, employer-paid health insurance, and a seven-day work year reduction. 

The salary increases in the new contract puts these workers on par with those of surrounding school districts, which will alleviate recruitment and retention concerns, improving the lives of students.

“We are extremely happy,” said Occupational Therapist Sophia Comparan-Del Real, who has worked for the district for five years. “They not only gave us an 8 percent wage increase, they moved us to the Board Certified Behavior Analyst (BCBA) salary scale, which is a big jump and we are more equitable.”

Comparan-Del Real said the financial gains translate to a morale boost “because we really felt heard and recognized.”

The last time the district updated working conditions for these workers was in 2013, but a few years ago, they changed them for BCBA, reducing their working days and improving their wages, despite the fact that they all work with the same students. When occupational therapists and physical therapists complained about this distinction, their calls were unheeded. 

“The district is finally honoring and rectifying the change in salary we were not given,” she said. “We feel more valued.”

Another big difference is the employer-paid medical insurance they now have access to. 

“We were paying and every year it had gone up,” said Comparan-Del Real, who was paying nearly $600 a month for her health coverage. “This makes a really big difference.”

She added that these workplace improvements, which she hopes will help fill vacancies in their department, would not have happened had they not organized with NUHW. 

“(Joining a union) is definitely worth exploring, especially if they feel the powers that be are not hearing them,” Comparan-Del Real said. “The union has given us a renewed sense of value for our position.”

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