Here's what you need to know about the Fresno Teachers Association strike

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Thursday, October 26, 2023
Fresno Teachers Association members vote to authorize strike
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Thousands of teachers with the Fresno Teachers Association (FTA) have voted to authorize a strike after failed contract negotiations with the Fresno Unified School District.

FRESNO, Calif. (KFSN) -- Thousands of Fresno Unified teachers are now set to go on strike in just a matter of days.

A rally at the Fresno Fairgrounds last Wednesday kicked off the voting, which continued until 5 pm Monday.

The results were just announced Wednesday morning.

The Fresno Teachers Association says more than 93% of voting members said yes to authorizing a strike.

What the FTA says are the key issues:

The union says these are the four key issues that still need to be addressed:

  • Reducing class sizes
  • Reducing caseloads for special education programs
  • Maintaining an employee health fund
  • Paying educators a wage that keeps up with inflation
  • What Fresno Unified has proposed:

    Fresno Unified is offering a total of 19% in salary increases over the three-year contract.

    That includes 14% in ongoing increases plus 5% in one-time payments.

    The district says its proposal would raise the average teacher salary to $103,000 per year.

    The FTA argues that's not a standard metric for the education industry.

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

    FTA President Manuel Bonilla said Tuesday that Fresno Unified's salary scale is among the lowest in the Valley with starting pay at just over $56,000 per year and the highest pay topping out at $102,000.

    However, that is only for teachers with a master's degree and 15 years of service.

    What the FTA is saying:

    Fresno Teacher Association's President Manuel Bonilla sat down with Action News Anchors Dale Yurong and Graciela Moreno Tuesday evening for a live in-studio interview.

    Fresno Teachers Association President Manuel Bonilla sits down with Action News for a live interview on the decision to authorize strike.

    Here are his key takeaways:

  • Bonilla says that Fresno Unified being "disconnected" from the classroom led to the teachers voting to authorize a strike.
  • Bonilla claims that Fresno Unified has received "record money" from the state of California and has not passed that money down to the teachers. Bonilla says Fresno Unified restructured their management positions to "give them additional salary."
  • Bonilla claims the Fresno Unified wants to cut teacher's health fund to help pay for the proposed salary raises, even though the district has the money in their general fund.
  • Bonilla says what Fresno Unified has offered will not address reduce class sizes, one of the union's requests.
  • When asked if it's possible to reach a deal before the Nov. 1 strike deadline, Bonilla said it was up to Fresno Unified Board of Trustees to "do the job they were elected to do" and added he hopes a strike can be averted.
  • What Fresno Unified is saying:

    Fresno Unified Chief Communications Officer Nikki Henry joined Action News Anchors Dale Yurong and Margot Kim Tuesday night for a live interview.

    Fresno Unified Chief Communications Officer Nikki Henry joins Action News for a live interview on the upcoming teachers' strike.

    Here are her key takeaways:

  • Henry says the district is "committed" to staying at negotiations throughout the week to get to an agreement that "serves our teachers" and is "fiscally sustainable solution."
  • Henry claims that the district has been as transparent as possible at the negotiation table. Henry says the district has shared what certain proposals from the union would do from a "budget standpoint."
  • Henry says the district is after the same common goals as the teachers union. She added its just about figuring out how to get to those goals mutually.
  • Henry says the district is 100 percent behind paying their teachers a fair wage. She added that the proposed pay raise would take the average teacher annual salary to $103,000 without the addition of stipends.
  • Henry says the "record money" Bonilla mentioned is "one time dollars" which came through COVID-19 relief. No benefits are planned on being cut, Henry says benefits are increasing as of Jan. 1, 2024.
  • When the strike could begin:

    Teachers are planning to leave the classroom on Wednesday, November 1 if a deal is not reached.

    Negotiations will continue until then.

    The FTA is expected to give Fresno Unified a written notice of the strike.

    Parents will be getting updates on the next steps for their students by Friday.

    How the strike can impact schools:

    Fresno Unified will have substitutes ready to step in as the strike begins.

    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.

    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.

    The district announced plans to keep high school sports running amid the strike.

    Substitute teachers will fill the gaps when it comes to coaching high school sports, but elementary and middle school sports will not continue during the strike.