Fresno teachers threaten back-to-school strike as talks intensify

Fresno Unified teachers have opened public negotiations with aggressive asks of the region’s largest school district. Now, a strike is on the table.

The Fresno Teachers Association (FTA) has issued an ultimatum to Fresno Unified School District: strike a deal on a contract by Sept. 29 or face a strike authorization vote in October.

The FTA represents over 4,000 teachers, nurses, social workers, and trades professionals, and has seen its contract talks with the district intensify in recent weeks.


Driving the News: The union has accused the district of failing to provide an adequate response to their detailed plan to “reimagine education” in Fresno, while the district has criticized the union for not adhering to its bargaining ground rules.

  • The union’s initial proposal included requests for an eye-popping 100 percent, lifetime coverage for health insurance, a move that school leaders have warned could put the state’s third-largest school district into financial peril.
  • Separately, the union’s pitch called for an aggressive, top-of-the-market 27 percent pay raise structure comprised of:
    • 13.26% pay raises for the current school year, including a 6 percent increase the district already agreed to pay, plus a one-time bonus of $10,000.
    • In 2023-2024, a 8.22% pay increase plus a $7,500 bonus next year.
    • In 2024-2025, a 5.54% increase and a $5,000 bonus in 2024-25,
    • In 2025-2026, the teachers are seeking a cost-of-living adjustment equal to the state’s local control funding formula COLA, plus a $5,000 bonus.
    • Beyond the incredible pay and benefits demands, the union demanded a litany of additional, unheralded support funds for a variety of services – from laundry services for students, food pantries for families, and vastly expanded tutoring services for students.
    • The last time the teachers union voted to strike was in 2017, although the parties reached an agreement that ultimately averted a strike. In April, the district publicly accused the union of planning a strike authorization vote, but the union denied any such plans.

    What they’re saying: Taylor Vizthum, an FTA bargaining chair, expressed disappointment with the district’s most recent response, stating, “Many times throughout the document, when they are talking about their own programs, they say: ‘Insert details. Details needed. Add details.’ I wouldn’t accept that from my students. I certainly shouldn’t be accepting it from the superintendent.”

    • During a rally, FTA President Manuel Bonilla addressed the teachers, stating, “Systemic changes in this district have only happened when educators have taken collective action. We have a plan on how to transform public education in Fresno. The district is lacking in a response – doesn’t have a plan. We’re tired of (them) dragging this on.”
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