United PCS


Elliot Chaussalet

Have you been wondering what was up with the teachers protesting a few weeks ago? It was a protest organized by United PCS, a labor union at PCS. “What is a labor union?” you might be asking yourself. According to the U.S department of labor; a labor union is “a group of two or more employees who join together to advance common interests such as wages, benefits, schedules and other employment terms and conditions.” Long story short, it is when workers group together to get better working conditions, wage,…etc. Labor unions are backed by the law, making it illegal for an employer to fire or punish a worker for making or joining a union. 

I recently spoke with Mary Gardner, the president of United PCS and the PCS Latin teacher. Here are some of her responses:

Why was United PCS created?

United PCS was created to represent the faculty at PCS, ensure certain protections and procedures and to give faculty a meaningful voice in important decision-making processes. All of these things help faculty feel supported and respected so that we can effectively support our students. 

Who is in United PCS?

United PCS is the legally recognized union that represents certificated faculty at PCS. This means we represent teachers and counselors whose job requires a California credential.

How do you reach your goals?

We reach our goals through our own collaboration and support of each other as a group of dedicated educators. The idea behind a union is that employees don’t have very much influence individually, but when they are united as a group and working together, they can better advocate for their needs. Right now we are in the process of bargaining our second contract, also known as a collective bargaining agreement. Basically, every three years our contract “expires,” so United PCS and PCS come together to negotiate to make necessary changes to the contract and reach an agreement.

Do you have any examples of issues you are trying to solve right now?

Some of the issues we’re trying to address right now include the high cost of living in Santa Cruz, difficulty finding affordable childcare, and just feeling generally burnt out because teaching requires so much extra work outside of school hours. We are trying to address these issues in our new contract with a higher salary, better parental leave and other things to help support teachers, students, and our community.