Northside ISD auxiliary workers gathered outside district headquarters on Tuesday to protest a pending raise they argue still keeps their salaries below market level.
They gathered just before the scheduled board meeting Tuesday night, where board members were expected to approve raises for all of its 12,000 employees a year after a pay freeze.
Auxiliary workers, such as custodians, maintenance workers, food service employees, and bus drivers, were on tap to receive a 2 percent increase.
"I've been driving for Northside for eight years and I make less than $12 an hour," said Louis Martinez. "In most districts that I've called around, with my eight years of experience, I'd be earning somewhere between $14 and $16 an hour, so I know that I'm underpaid."
"The allotment of funds is there to give this pay raise," said Guillermo Vasquez of the Texas Workers Alliance, which represents hundreds of auxiliary employees in NISD, and asked the district to give workers a 4 percent raise. "They could actually freeze it for top administrators and move it and restructure it if you will for the auxiliary employees and thus come up with a better pay proposal for them."
"The salary proposed for those employees is 2 percent average increase," said district spokesman Pascual Gonzalez. "We believe that that is a fair compensation increase."
Three speakers addressed the board before the vote, including Vasquez, but it did little to sway the board, which approved the proposed increases. The increases include an average pay increase of 2.4 percent for teachers.
"Teachers have a great pay system, they advance almost yearly. If it's been working for teachers all these years, it can work for all the other employees," said Vasquez after the vote. "They should treat us the same. That's all we're asking."
Gonzalez refuted claims by the TWA that the district is losing large numbers of auxiliary employees to other districts because of lower pay.
"When Northside posts a job, we have hundreds of people apply for that job," said Gonzalez. "When we have a job fair, there are thousands of people that line up to work at Northside district. People choose to work here."