Houston unions victorious with a historic pay raise plan

Superintendent Millard House in gray suit and glasses speaks to press.
Houston ISD Superintendent Millard House holds a press conference to announce a comprehensive pay raise plan. Standing with him are union presidents Wretha Thomas of HESP (left in orange) and Jackie Anderson of HFT (right in red).

After initial Houston ISD salary proposals were seen as insufficient to address the crisis in retaining teachers, our local unions—Houston Federation of Teachers and Houston Educational Support Personnel—got to work firing up school employees to demand more. The resulting campaign with thousands of letters and petition signatures sent to school leaders and negotiations with the district resulted in a comprehensive plan to significantly raise salaries for all school employees over the next three years.

The district raised the starting teacher salary to $61,500, an 11% increase that positively impacted all teachers and will result in a 17% raise over three years. According to district officials, “most” hourly workers will be at a $15/hr minimum and all will get a raise of at least a dollar. The district also is offering stipends—from $2,000 to $15,000, averaging around $5,000—to employees who commit to staying at their positions through the 2024-2025 school year.

As districts throughout the Houston area already were scrambling to be competitive in recruiting new teachers, with several boosting starting pay above the $60,000 mark. Many districts, including Houston ISD, are using federal pandemic aid to fund retention bonuses.