Waving signs and blowing whistles, more than 100 teachers rallied in downtown Fresno on Wednesday, calling on Fresno Unified to reverse course on its contract proposal that spells out teacher pay, benefits and duties.
The district's contract proposal would give teachers 8.2% in raises over three years and an extra $500 for annual health-care costs. Union officials are calling for 15.5% over two years, plus a 2.7% one-time retroactive raise for the 2012-13 school year.
It's not the first time the union turned out in force: in March, hundreds of teachers crowded into the board room to return copies of a booklet, signifying opposition to the disputed No Child Left Behind waiver the district got last year.
Since then, teachers have shown up to board meetings periodically to protest the waiver — and the stalled contract talks, which are now headed into a second mediation phase.
Tish Rice, who was elected last week as the next Fresno Teachers Association president and will take office in July, sounded her concerns.
Instead of being at home with their families, Rice said, teachers were at the board meeting "because they're concerned with the possibility of a strike."
Superintendent Michael Hanson noted the two sides have already reached agreement on some issues like teacher evaluations. The biggest issues — teacher pay and benefits — are still unsettled, he said.
Later, trustee Janet Ryan said the union is being "totally uncooperative" and called its pay proposal "outrageous."
The district is anticipating spending millions more to fund employee pensions in future years, she said, and simply can't afford the union's plan.
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