Fresno Unified, teachers take contract dispute into fact-finding phase

The Fresno BeeApril 11, 2014 

Eva Ruiz

Contract talks between the Fresno Teachers Association and the Fresno Unified School District stalled Friday as state-appointed mediators determined that no settlement in the months-long deadlock was possible.

Friday was the fourth day of mediation efforts between the union and the district. The ongoing impasse now sends the contract dispute into a nonbinding, fact-finding stage.

"We are very disappointed in what we see as the district's unwillingness to make any attempts to compromise and get this contract settled," FTA president Eva Ruiz said.

Fresno Unified noted in an official statement released Friday night that the two sides have reached tentative agreements on evaluations, shared decision making, early childhood education and working conditions.

But still to be agreed upon are bigger issues like salary and benefits.

The district noted that in the fact-finding phase, a three-person panel will be created. Each side appoints a member, and those two then agree on a third person. "Both parties must consider the fact-finding report in good faith and attempt to use it as a basis for a possible settlement," the district said.

Teachers in Fresno schools began the year without a contract, and since October have been unhappy with the district's proposal. The most recent incarnation of the district's offer calls for an 8.2% raise over three years, dating to the start of the 2013-14 school year; extending the school day at some schools; and reducing class sizes in some elementary grades. Fresno Unified also proposes to add 10 professional development days for teachers and offer stipends for employees who are willing to take on some after-school programs.

The teachers' union wants raises amounting to 15.5% over two years, in addition to a 2.7% hike going back to the 2012-13 year. The union is also pushing for lower class sizes in all grades.

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