Fresno teachers to hold rally asking for more pay and better working conditions

FRESNO, Calif. (KFSN) -- Teachers in the fourth largest district in the state are demanding more money, smaller class sizes, and better benefits as contract negotiations with Fresno Unified have stalled following months of bargaining.

"We're at a point in negotiations right now where the district has to have a sense of urgency to get this done before the end of the school year," said Tish Rice, Fresno Teachers Association President.

Fresno Unified Interim Superintendent Bob Nelson feels the district has addressed two of the main sticking points-- offering a 3.5-percent salary increase, while upping its health benefit payout from 80 to 90-percent and reducing out of pocket expense for employees

"Our responsibility is to make sure we're fiscally responsible-- we want balanced compensation with making sure that our kid's needs are met and our district is financially sound."

Going forward, Nelson wants to avoid the same financial troubles that plagued the district 12 years ago when Fresno Unified was on the brink of bankruptcy.

"We don't deny that our teachers work very, very, hard and there's no more important relationship at a school than that of a teacher and their student-- that being said the district has a responsibility to make sure we're financially viable to go the long term."

But Rice said the district can afford to do better, the union is proposing a cap on the number of students in each classroom and to have a registered nurse on every campus in the district.

"We're hoping we can get into a room with the district's negotiation team and hash out these areas they have failed to address so far."

Both sides agree a teachers strike would be the last option-- in the meantime the teachers union will work counter offer to present to the district very soon. null
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