Fresno Teachers Vote to Strike Over Contract Dispute

Background

The Fresno Teachers Association (FTA), the union that represents more than 4,000 educators in Fresno Unified School District (FUSD), has voted to authorize a strike after failed contract negotiations with the district. This is the first time since 1978 that teachers within Fresno Unified will strike. The FTA announced the results of the vote on Tuesday, October 24, 2023, saying that 93.5% of the nearly 3,700 members who voted supported the strike12.

Issues

The FTA and the FUSD have been at the negotiation table for more than a year, trying to reach an agreement on four key issues: reducing class size, reducing the caseload for special education, paying educators a wage that keeps pace with inflation and maintaining the employee health fund2. The FTA president Manuel Bonilla said that the union wants to reimagine the school education system for over 74,000 Fresno Unified students and that the district has ignored most of their ideas1.

District’s Response

The FUSD said in a statement that it is prepared to keep schools open, safe and full of learning during an active teacher strike. The district also said that it has offered a 19% salary increase over the next three years, which is in addition to the nearly 33% raises that teachers have received over the past several years. The district claimed that it has considered many of the ideas that the FTA has offered and that it has only seen one written response from the union during negotiations12.

Strike Date and Plans

The FTA said that it will officially hit the picket lines on Wednesday, November 1, 2023, unless a fair contract is reached before then. The union has not announced how long the strike will last or what impact it will have on the students’ learning. The FTA has urged parents and community members to support the teachers and join them in their fight for better education. The FUSD has said that it will continue to negotiate with the FTA and hopes to avoid a strike that will disrupt the school year .

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