Fresno Unified plans to pay subs $500 per day if teachers strike

In a back-to-school message, Fresno Unified Superintendent Bob Nelson said the district is preparing to retain thousands of substitute teachers in the event of a strike.

Fresno Unified School District is prepared to bring on around 4,000 substitute teachers in case the district’s teachers go on strike. 

The district and the Fresno Teachers Association (FTA), the union representing Fresno Unified’s teachers, remain far apart from agreeing to a new deal just one week before the school year starts. 


The backstory: Both sides are up against a Sep. 29 deadline to avoid a strike, a date set by FTA in May ahead of the June 30 contract expiration. 

  • Fresno Unified and FTA have had trouble even agreeing on how to negotiate the new contract. Both sides had initially agreed to use Interest-Based Bargaining, but the district said in April that the FTA sent a proposal that more closely resembled positional bargaining, leading to a public argument on local television between Superintendent Bob Nelson and FTA President Manuel Bonilla. 

The big picture: School is scheduled to start on Aug. 14, and Nelson said at a press conference Monday that the district’s campuses will be open and staffed throughout the year whether or not a new deal is reached with the FTA. 

  • Substitute teachers would be paid $500 per day if the FTA moves to strike. 
  • FUSD’s latest proposal to FTA, submitted on June 1, would make the average teacher’s salary more than $100,000 annually. 
  • However, FTA’s last, best, and final offer – currently under review in the fact-finding stage of negotiations – would bankrupt the district, according to Nelson. District officials peg the cost of the union’s proposal as being “in excess of $2 billion.”
  • Nelson asserted that FTA’s proposal sought a four-day work week.

What they’re saying: Nelson called the substitutes “critical,” and said the district hopes that FTA does not vote to strike. 

  • “We’ll continue negotiating with the teachers union and work toward an agreement that prioritize equally the needs of teachers, students, families and the kids we serve,” Nelson said.
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