Fresno Unified and teachers working on contract

Kate Nemarich Image
Saturday, April 22, 2023
Fresno Unified and teachers working on contract
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For the past few months, Fresno Unified School District and Fresno Teachers Association have been working to develop a new contract.

For the past few months, Fresno Unified School District and Fresno Teachers Association have been working to develop a new contract.

The current three-year contract is set to expire on June 30th.

Previously, the two sides agreed to negotiate through Interest Based Bargaining or IBB.

Unlike traditional bargaining where each side comes with complete proposals and work to find middle ground, IBB guidelines require the district and teacher's association to come with interests and collaboratively work towards an agreement.

Fresno Unified says the teachers association isn't sticking to that model and that FTA gave the district an almost 30-page document, which they say goes against IBB guidelines.

"The problem with bringing all of that information to the table. It constrains what you really think about because you only argue about the differences between these two proposals, instead of creating something that might be better than all parties have thought of," said Bob Nelson, superintendent of the Fresno Unified School District.

The Fresno Teachers Association says that the document sent in November was necessary to present the interests of their more than 4,000 members.

Teachers Association President Manuel Bonilla says they need the district to provide written ideas and solutions so negotiations can happen.

"It feels like the district is weaponizing a process in order to not have an authentic conversation about what we need to do in order to improve our school district. And that is frustrating, because that doesn't serve our students, it doesn't serve our teachers," said Manuel Bonilla, Fresno Teachers Association President.

FUSD says they received this email on Tuesday from an FTA site representative saying the teachers association was planning to take a Strike Authorization Vote and that they are meeting next Tuesday.

The district took that to mean a vote was happening Tuesday.

"That wouldn't be in alignment with our idea of coming back to the table and just talking collaboratively about the things that matter," siad Nelson.

Bonilla says there is no vote planned and that the email does not say a vote is scheduled for Tuesday.

He also says Nelson did not address that email in phone calls they've had since the email was received.

"He knows that our office the is the official voice of the association. So then to claim that somebody else is saying this. Therefore, again, if it was truly a concern, he should have just reached out like an adult and said, Hey, we have this message. Is this something that you guys are actually doing," said Bonilla.

Fresno Unified and the Teachers Association are set to meet next Thursday to continue the process.