San Francisco teachers are staging an overnight protest in their district office, and it will continue until they’re paid, they say.

The San Francisco Unified School District migrated to a new payroll system in January, according to teachers. And since they change, many school staff have been having trouble getting paid. Some people are getting only a percent of what they’re owed, some are getting nothing, others are seeing improper deductions. Perhaps more alarmingly, several have reported their medical insurance being canceled.

Most Americans (78 percent, according to one study) could not cover their bills if two paychecks failed to come through. About 1 in 5 couldn’t afford to miss even one. These teachers, who are only paid once a month, have missed two.

The protest began after school on Monday, when around 20 San Francisco teachers arrived at the school district office, ready to camp out. They greeted Superintendent Vincent Matthews with a box of letters from educators and school staff detailing how their lives were being affected by the delay in pay.

“Anyone who has had a delay in their check, there is no way that that should have happened,” Matthews told the crowd of educators. “I hold myself accountable. And I want to apologize to our employees… there’s no way our system should do that. And in that way, we have failed you.”

“District leadership has failed us completely,” says Leslie Hu, a school social worker and secretary for the teachers’ union. “We’re here because we have hundreds, if not thousands, of educators that are not getting paid… we’ve had situations where landlords are threatening to evict educators because they don’t have the money.”

The union also hopes the protest will address an ongoing matter of teachers not being allowed to use COVID leave and instead having to use personal sick days, which the union negotiated and won in 2020.

Photo: Sheila Fitzgerald / Shutterstock