Hundreds of New Haven Unified teachers on strike in Union City, Hayward

UNION CITY, Calif. (KGO) -- About 600 teachers and counselors from the New Haven Unified School District went on strike this morning as they fight for better pay.

The picket line was full of energy and enthusiasm but some of the teachers were also feeling a bit of shock about being on strike today instead of in their classrooms.

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"I really hoped it didn't come to this. It was very sad and difficult to wake up and know that this is happening this morning," said teacher Erin Dal Porto.

Negotiations broke down over the weekend between the district and the teacher's union. The teachers want a ten percent raise. The district is offering a 3 percent bonus and a one percent raise the following year. Administrators say that's the best they can do.

"We have impressive hardworking teachers they deserve a big raise they just do, we don't have the money to give them any, said district spokesperson John Mattos.

He says the district is currently spending more than it has and has made millions of dollars in cuts.

"It is dire. We are a declining enrollment district. We have lost over 1000 kids over the last few years and even 350 from last year to this year. We are funded by the number of students we have and so our revenues are declining," said Mattos.

Schools in Union City and Hayward are open during the strike but attendance is down significantly today.

"One site said they had about 25 percent of their students and another said they had 15 percent of their students," said Mattos. He said they don't have a teacher for every classroom and it will not be business as usual.

One parent said she didn't feel like she had enough information about what today would look like, and was frustrated that kids were caught in the middle.

"I am sending her today. I want to see how they play it out. I want to get my daughter's perspective," said parent Valerie Salinas.

"If our students need to come to school, we completely understand. We know that that's a decision they have to make with their parents," said teacher Dal Parto.

Teachers say they are hoping for a short strike, but will stay on the picket line for as long as it takes.

"I am a former student. I graduated from here at Logan High School. I love the community but I am definitely saddened at how they are treating us over the years. I am just tired of it," said teacher Cheri Craddock.

Currently there is no scheduled time to return to the bargaining table. Administrators say they hope to meet on Wednesday but nothing is set. Parents should expect the strike to continue again tomorrow.

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