Teachers vote at FTA meeting to go on strike, first time in nearly 40 years

FRESNO, Calif. (KFSN) -- This is the first time in nearly four decades the teachers union has moved to strike and the vote was overwhelming yes.

For such a momentous vote --there was little hesitation or suspense. The stalemate over contract negotiations has worn people's patience thin.

"We said enough is enough tonight, please focus on the classroom," said Jon Bath, teacher.

Teachers are hoping their vote to strike puts added pressure on the district --to hear their demands for smaller class sizes, better salaries and benefits, and classroom safety. District leaders tell us they have already tried to compromise on those issues.

"I was hoping we'd get more moment on a counter but the counter we received essentially wasn't a whole lot different than the counter from before," said Chief of Human Resources Paul Idsvoog.

In their latest offer, the district agreed to eliminate combination classes and reduce core class ratios grades nine to 12.

"Much like how FTA has been organizing this whole time for a strike, we have been focusing on keeping schools open safe and functional," said Idsvoog.

Teachers say the offers are too little, too late. They cannot legally strike until all negotiation options are exhausted. The two parties are currently in the last fact-finding phase.

"Our voice is not being heard, and that's why you saw the enthusiasm of the 2,500 teachers here tonight," said Bath.

A third party will review the contract and give recommendations later this month --despite the rhetoric, both sides hope an agreement can be made.

"Trust me I'm working day and night with our superintendent," said Idsvoog.
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