Fresno Unified, teachers union split on contract talks

The Fresno BeeOctober 22, 2013 

Fresno Unified School District superintendent Michael Hanson and Fresno Teachers Association president Eva Ruiz during a joint appearance last year. The association and the district are at odds over a new contract.

CRAIG KOHLRUSS/THE FRESNO BEE — Fresno Bee Staff Photo Buy Photo

Differences between Fresno Unified and its teachers union over negotiations for a new labor contract surfaced anew Tuesday.

Fresno Unified officials issued a news release Tuesday evening, following a negotiation session with the union, saying the Fresno Teachers Association was seeking an unreasonable 9% wage increase plus millions more in health benefits.

The district has offered to raise salaries by 2.5% this year and by 2% in each of the following two years.

Fresno Unified superintendent Michael Hanson said the union's proposal would cost the district more than $100 million. The district's offer would cost $56 million.

The union's proposal "raised my eyebrows," Hanson said in an interview. "I was surprised the numbers were so far apart; it doesn't match the reality of the situation in my view."

Eva Ruiz, president of Fresno Teachers Association, said the union doesn't think its contract request -- a 7% increase and a 2% retroactive raise -- is out of line.

"Teachers have sacrificed much in years when the district was receiving less," Ruiz said. "Now that the district is receiving more, teachers would like to receive their fair share."

Negotiations will resume next Tuesday.

Hanson said the district hopes an agreement can be reached and for both parties to work together for the best interests of the students and the community.

The reporter can be reached at (559) 441-6659 or daguilera@fresnobee.com.

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