Teachers across the state rally to raise wages and working conditions for Bay Area teachers in San Francisco’s Union Square.

SAN FRANCISCO (KGO) — Teachers from across the state rallied Saturday in San Francisco in support of Bay Area educators, many of whom say they are underpaid, understaffed and underestimated.

Members of the California Federation of Teachers took their time from their annual conference to support educators in San Francisco.

“We are a union, a mighty, mighty union,” they chanted.

“It is about uniting in the name of justice, in the name of education. We unite to fight for students and members,” said Jeff Freitas, president of the California Federation of Teachers.

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Some SFUSD and City College staff say they survived by working during the pandemic in some classrooms that had no heating, but pay remains Leslie Hu’s biggest challenge.

“San Francisco is an expensive city to live in. We have low wages. Some para-educators make as little as $17.50 an hour, which is very close to the minimum wage in the city,” said Hu, a social worker for SFUSD.

“We are all for equal pay for equal work. We support our brothers and sisters in San Francisco. That’s why we’re here today,” said Joan Haywood of Los Angeles.

“Some say it’s a staffing crisis, others say it’s a fabricated crisis caused by underfunding, underpayment, and a chronic disrespect crisis,” said Cassondra Curial, president of United Educators of San Francisco.

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San Francisco Unified School District officials say last September they approved a 6% salary increase for teachers and para-educators for the current school year.

The union says it is now negotiating a multi-year contract with the county.

“Our district must make our educators whole,” Hu said.

Across California, teachers are struggling with some of them choosing other careers.

“We interviewed our participants. Only 40% said they would advise friends and relatives to become teachers. It’s a sad story because they know how difficult it is,” Freitas said.

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