San Francisco teachers to occupy district office for third night over missed paychecks

San Francisco educators are spending a third night at district headquarters, demanding that the district pay them what they are owed.

Hundreds of teachers and other staff members have gone unpaid or only received partial paychecks since January.

The United Educators of San Francisco for months there have been ongoing issues with pay and benefits.

"January and February payroll cycles left hundreds of educators scrambling to cover rent, bills, and overdraft fees after they noticed that whole or partial checks went unpaid by SFUSD," the labor union said.

Since Monday, several San Francisco Unified School District educators have been sleeping inside the district's offices, and they are committed to staying as long as they have to.

Leslie Hu, a community schools coordinator at Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Middle School, has spent the last two nights on the floor in her sleeping bag.

"We shouldn't have to be here. We should be at Home with our families in our own beds, but we will continue to stay if that is what it takes to ensure that educators can pay their rent and bills on time," Hu said. We have made it clear that we would pack up our bags and go home right now if we could get a guaranteed timeline that any future payroll issues will be resolved within a reasonable amount of time moving forward."

SFUSD officials have admitted that hundreds of teachers and other staff members have not gotten paid since January but attributed the error to a recent change by the district to a new payroll system. Previously, the district had used the same system for the last 17 years.

Superintendent Vincent Matthews said in a statement on Monday the district is working diligently on correcting the issue, including adding at least ten more staff members to its payroll department to help investigate and solve the issue.

"In spite of a lot of preparation, there are serious payroll related issues that have arisen since transitioning to a new employee information system. This is inexcusable and should not have happened," he said. "It is SFUSD's responsibility to pay its employees accurately and on time. We deeply apologize to every employee who has experienced a delay in payment. I have asked our chief technology officer to move to this project 100 percent until further notice. We are committed to resolving this emergency as quickly as possible. Every staff member will be paid the money they are owed."

The payment issues come as the district and the San Francisco Board of Education are mulling laying off hundreds of teachers and other staff to balance the budget for the upcoming school year as the district faces a $125 projected budget shortfall.

SFUSD officials said the while hundreds of staff members have been affected, the majority of the district's more than 10,000 employees have been paid correctly.

UESF officials have said they plan to file a lawsuit if the payment issue isn't remedied.