Employees protest HISD's 40-cent pay raise proposal


HOUSTON – A rally over the Houston Independent School District's proposed 40-cent-per-hour wage increase was held Thursday.

District employees, which include custodians, bus aides and others rallied against the proposed raise. The Houston Federation of Teachers released a statement saying its members are insulted and humiliated by the offer.

The American Federation of Teachers released the following statement:

"Houston school support workers live on poverty wages, are disrespected by their bosses and insulted by a proposed 40-cent hourly raise, Houston Educational Support Personnel leaders and members said today at a rally where they were joined by state lawmakers and others.

“'Houston food service attendants, custodians, bus aides and other support workers are important parts of the fabric that makes public schools work well. Yet they earn poverty wages and are further disrespected by a laughable offer to raise their pay by a mere 40 cents an hour,” said HESP President Wretha Thomas.

"HESP is calling on the school system to provide a $3 hourly raise for those now earning $12 an hour. Those already earning $15 an hour, such as carpenters, mechanics, painters and air-conditioning mechanics, should receive a 5 percent cost-of-living increase. 

"Benigna Cruz, a custodial worker at Young Women’s College Preparatory Academy, said she cleans 11 restrooms, six to seven classrooms and several offices every workday for $12 an hour. 'I do a lot of work for little pay,' said Cruz, a single mother. 'It’s always a struggle.'

"Many school support staff, like food service worker Sibyl Hunter who works at Evan E. Worthing High School, do not get paid when school is closed, such as during Thanksgiving, winter and spring breaks.

“'There are some people who crash with family members or literally live in their cars during the summer because they can’t afford to pay rent. How will a measly 40-cents-an-hour raise help them?' Hunter asked.

"Thomas is demanding that school support workers earn a livable wage of at least $15 an hour that befits the hard work they do."

HISD released the following statement:

"The HISD Board of Education has been presented with a balanced budget for their consideration that provides salary increases to all employees and does not include layoffs. A thorough analysis determined that increasing the district’s minimum wage to $15/an hour would result in a $17 million deficit to the school district.  The proposed budget rewards all of the nearly 30,000 employees who work day in and day out for the success of HISD students."