Texas AFT local wage campaigns push for higher school employee salaries

With a crowd of people in the background, two teacher lean down to add blue borders to the red letters of a giant paper sign reading "Fund our public schools."
The San Antonio Alliance held a “Community Town Hall, BBQ, and Art Build” to prepare for a May 16 rally calling for higher pay, smaller class sizes, and a focus on health and safety.

Our recent report—“The Lost Decade: Texas schools are underfunded & facing devastating staffing shortages”—showed how school employee wages have remained stagnant (and in many cases decreased) over the last decade. The solution involves more public education funding from the state. But that doesn’t mean local school districts can’t start taking steps now to retain school employers with higher wages.

Texas AFT has assisted our local unions in taking wage demands directly to their superintendents and school boards. Armed with our resources on The Lost Decade report and our rallying call for respect with higher salaries and more manageable workloads, these unions are stepping up locally.

A man in a red shirt with a crowd behind him holds a sign saying "2% Pay, Not Okay."

Education Austin rallied last night at Austin ISD’s School Board meeting protesting plans to cut 632 positions to help fund a lackluster proposal for a $1,000 increase in base teacher pay and a 2% midpoint salary increase. The district proposes raising the minimum hourly pay to $16/hr. But Education Austin has countered that since the Austin metro area is one of the least affordable places to live in the country, the minimum district wage should be $20/hr.

When Socorro AFT heard that the district was only recommending a 2% pay raise, the union knew school employees wouldn’t stand for it. When Socorro AFT surveyed 1,000 district employees recently, 90% said they need stabilization in their financial status, 81.6% said a pay raise would help achieve financial stability, and 54% said they would consider leaving their job in education. “They made comments like ‘I had to file bankruptcy,’” said Socorro AFT President Veronica Hernandez. “Other said, ‘I can’t even afford a college fund for my own children’ and ‘I have to live paycheck to paycheck.’”

Socorro AFT is countering that suggestion and asking for a 10% pay raise, a $2,000 retention stipend, and a starting minimum wage of $15/hr. 

Piece of paper with large red headline of "Our Heroes Deserve a Living Wage" and is taped on a wrinkled envelope

Alliance-AFT, our union for Dallas ISD, is preparing for a massive turnout at its May 26 School Board meeting. Under the banner of “Our Heroes Deserve a Living Wage,” members will be telling the School Board that educators need an 8% raise and a minimum $15/hr wage for all employees.

Against the backdrop of news that Houston ISD has a $300 million surplus after overbudgeting for payroll, the Houston Federation of Teachers is rallying members to ask for “Respect and Dignity” with a 10% pay raise, retention bonuses, and other pay increases

Spring AFT is petitioning for an 8% pay raise for employees and a process to reduce workload. 

Brownsville Educators Standing Together (BEST AFT) continues to use its #WeDeserveBetter campaign to push for a $4,000 across the board pay raise for all certified personnel and a $15/hr minimum wage for all classified employees. The union was victorious in getting the $15/hr summer rate for those employees after the administration recommended $12/hr.

The above is just a sample of dozens of wage campaigns across the state. Stay tuned to the Hotline for more local news on efforts to raise educator salaries.