Fresno Teachers Association files unfair practice charge against Fresno Unified School District

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Friday, October 20, 2023
Fresno Teachers Association files unfair practice charge against Fresno Unified School District
The Fresno Teachers Association has filed an unfair practice charge against Fresno Unified School District alleging infringement of labor protections.

FRESNO, Calif. (KFSN) -- After failed attempts during contract negotiations, the Fresno Teachers Association filed a claim against Fresno Unified with the California Public Employee Relations Board on Friday.

It centers around a number of communications made by Fresno Unified Administrators.

That includes email communications and announcements discouraging participation and making threats for those with the intent to participate in a potential strike.

"We take our educators' rights very seriously. And what we have here is a district that openly gives directives, if you will, to intimidate our educators," said Manuel Bonilla, president of the Fresno Teacher Association.

Fresno Unified Chief Communications Officer Nikki Henry says the district plans to respond to FTA's claims in the coming days.

"We are absolutely respectful of our teacher's right to engage in a concerted work stoppage," said Henry.

The California Public Employee Relations Board will listen to both sides and determine if an investigation needs to be conducted.

Meanwhile, the district is preparing for the possibility of a strike.

On Wednesday, the school board approved over three million dollars to help cover the costs of a strike.

"Making sure that our schools stay open, safe, and full of learning. These are the additional materials, supplies, hands-on-deck that we need to make that happen," Henry explained.

Bonilla says he's disappointed by that decision.

"You could not spend that money and invest that money into the classroom and into our educators and avoid this altogether," Bonilla said.

The district's strike readiness plan includes $2 million for curriculum, $451,000 for health services, $176,000 for safety and security, and $410,000 for substitute hiring and orientation costs.

Officials say they need fewer than 2400 substitute teachers if every Fresno Unified school teacher goes on strike. The substitute teachers will go through the hiring process, which includes a background check and being fingerprinted. Then, they will go through a four-hour orientation.

Early estimates show classroom sizes will grow by adding five additional students to each class

The district says it depends on attendance.

Right now, it's estimated that 86% of students will continue to come to class.

"Our values are that our kids are able to work toward achieving their greatest potential. And we can only do that if we have our schools open," Henry said.

"Kids are our focus. And we are want to also make sure that we are having the best quality educators in those spaces."

Fresno Unified Superintendent *Bob Nelson* released a video message Friday night acknowledging the contentious situation and the teachers' right to strike.

He also asked the union to communicate how they can move forward.

Nelson also added in a social media post that negotiations resume on Tuesday.

The final vote on whether or not teachers will authorize a strike is expected to be released by Monday.

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