Teachers “Working to Rule” During Extended Salary Negotiations

School board meeting. Photo retrieved from OneDublin.

School board meeting. Photo retrieved from OneDublin.

For the past several weeks, teachers have been involved in negotiations with the district. Though these negotiations occur on a regular basis, there has been disagreement between teachers and the district this year causing complications. Tenured teachers who are members of Dublin Teachers Association (DTA), Dublin’s union for teachers, have been “working to rule,” working solely for what they are paid for to express how they typically go above and beyond their responsibilities. Mrs. Lewis, a physics teacher and union representative at Dublin High School, declared that “teachers are Dublin’s best and most underappreciated resource.”


Dublin Unified School District Board of Representatives. Photo retrieved from OneDublin.


Several releases from the union have attested that the salaries offered to teachers are merely not enough to sustain a lifestyle in Dublin. One document handed out around campus, entitled “The Reality of Being Teachers in Dublin,” expresses the tragic reality that several teachers who work in Dublin are forced to communicate unreasonable distances because of the cost of living in Dublin. The document expresses a common sentiment amongst Dublin High School’s teachers “we love our students and we love what we do, but [we] can no longer afford to live in the same city in which we teach.”


A poster in Mrs. Lewis’ classroom.


The teachers are currently pushing for a raise of 2% which would increase the percentage of district spending on salaries by about 1%. As of now, the district spends about 48% on teacher salaries and the proposed raise would increase that amount to 49%. An examination of the district budget, as published online, shows that 25% of it is dedicated for unplanned use. As one Dublin High School English teacher explained “the district hasn’t responded to what this money is being set aside for, which raises questions as to why it can’t be used to increase teacher salaries.”


Over the past several weeks contradictory information has been released by both the district and the teachers regarding these technical details. In some cases, the language has turned become accusatory and harsh, with the DTA Facebook page accusing district of officials of “purposefully misleading the community.”


Flyers distributed on behalf of the Dublin Teacher’s Association.


The Dublin Shield reached out to the school board to understand their perspective on the situation, recognizing the complexities and multifaceted nature of this issue. Megan Rouse, the school board president, said, “Part of what makes Dublin so great is that our teachers work hard during and outside the hours of the school day on behalf of students. We recognize the teachers’ legal right as a bargaining unit to practice work to rule.  However, work to rule has unintended consequences on our students. It impacts their learning, their extra-curricular activities, and their morale.  In Dublin Unified our teachers and staff are our most valuable resource, and I hope that during this time of negotiations that we all continue to support our students.”


While some would contest Ms. Rouse’s quote, she brings up an important point. The teachers work to rule has had adverse effects on students. Some teachers have been unable to write letters of recommendation for graduating seniors, grades have been more slowly updated, students have lost a valuable resource, and teachers have been unable to fulfill their roles as club advisors. One club president expressed that while she “fully supported the teachers, it’s difficult to keep a club running in a situation like this.” Luckily, the teachers and HUB staff have been extremely supportive of students and attempted to find solutions to any problems that may have arised from work to rule.


This issue has revalidated the importance of the role of teachers in the Dublin High School community and brought up important concerns about balancing their treatment with larger budget requirements that must be met. Moving forward, the Dublin Shield hopes for a resolution to this issue and will continue to strive to keep students up to date on any developments.