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National City teachers voice concerns after approving strike

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NATIONAL CITY, Calif. – Wednesday night, elementary school teachers in National City took their battle for better pay directly to the National City School Board of Education.

“We demand a fair contract now!”

To the cheers of dozens of fellow educators, teachers made their arguments to board members.

“I sometimes don’t even get home till midnight, too tired to even eat,” said one teacher to the education board.

The fight began earlier in the day with a rally before the meeting.

On Monday, the National City Elementary Teachers Association voted to approve a strike if a fair contract was not reached with the school district. Two days later, teachers and educators took to the street to tell board members they meant business.

Sandy Hollis, a preschool special education teacher sacrificed her night to fight for her future.

 “To me, that’s the big thing, there’s no give and take,” said Hollis.

Hollis said she already spends much of her paycheck towards buying her own teaching materials. From books, supplies to even coming up with her own curriculum, Hollis said last year she spent more than $1,000.

“I don’t mind spending my own money, but it would be nice to have that compensation with a little bit of a raise.  You know, appreciation for what I put into my class,” said Hollis.

The National School District and Union has been negotiating salary and other benefits for the 2017-18 school year for months, but an agreement has not been reached.

The school district has offered a pay raise of just over 5 percent, but the union wants 6 for the 3rd year of their contract plus better benefits.

“So that 5 percent is actually an increase to our work day they would like us to work 20 more minutes for that 5 percent,” said Christina Benson, NCETA President and school teacher.

Benson said teachers are already overworked and underpaid.

“We work past our school hours, some of us have families, so we’re at home doing the work when we’re supposed to be with our families,” said Benson.

Hollis said she loves her job; she would just like to see some of that love back.

“I just want them to give a little, I don’t want the world, and I just want a little. Just a little bit would help,” said Hollis.

The Board of Education heard testimony, but no decision was made Wednesday night.

Board members said they are not allowed to comment on contract negotiations, but told FOX 5 they have asked to return back to the bargaining table.

If no deal is reached, come fall the school year could start with a strike.

“We don’t want to strike, but we will if we have to,” said Benson.

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