Clovis Unified School District educators pushing to form teachers union

CLOVIS, Calif. (KFSN) -- Some Clovis Unified instructors say their concerns haven't been adequately addressed over the years.

Frustrated members of ACE (ACE graphic), the Association of Clovis Educators, believe it's time to form a teachers union.

"Teachers have been frustrated for a number of years, not feeling like they really had a meaningful voice," says Kristin Heimerdinger. "Not feeling that their input as experts in the classroom was valued."

But the push for unionization already has organized opposition from a group calling itself Clovis Teachers For Clovis.

"All of a sudden, this divisive circumstance is kind of adding insult to injury for our community, and I mean our community of teachers and our community of parents," says Clovis High teacher Joni Sumter.

"I just think there's other avenues that we can go down before we go to what is a permanent and difficult solution to get rid of," says Clovis East baseball coach Ryan Smith. "Once you unionize, it's tough to come back from it."

Supporters are in the process of collecting signed petitions from teachers, counselors and psychologists.

They say if they reach 50% plus one out of close to 2,200 Clovis Unified employees, they will be recognized as a union.

"The district has avenues right now for teachers to express their opinions and have a voice, but the issue is that the district is under no obligation to listen to those, to consider those, to adopt those," Heimerdinger said.

Heimerdinger has taught at Buchanan High for 28 years. She expects to see the petition gathering process complete by the end of the school year.

Clovis Unified said in a statement to Action News, "We recognize that during the pandemic, these traditions of collaboration and finding win-win solutions have been challenged given the sharply divided views held on the subject within our community and among our own employee teams."
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