Fresno Unified teachers union calls for renewed talks

The Fresno BeeMay 14, 2014 

Several dozen teachers rallied in downtown Fresno Wednesday, calling on Fresno Unified officials to come back to the bargaining table over teacher contracts.

Armed with megaphones and whistles, teachers dressed in black Fresno Teachers Association shirts waved signs asking for higher pay and fair working hours outside the district's headquarters on M and Tulare streets. The rally came less than an hour before the school board met for its bi-monthly meeting.

Union members have made regular appearances before the meetings in recent months. This time, FTA President Eva Ruiz called on the district to resume bargaining talks to reach a deal over teacher pay and duties.

"Your team wants to reach a deal," Ruiz called out to the crowd, which chanted "reach a deal" in response.

District spokeswoman Micheline Golden said the district's "desire is to come to an agreement that allows us to responsibly support our students, programs and teachers. We're moving forward with fact finding and hope to reach a resolution soon."

Talks have been at a standstill since a state mediator declared the parties would need to work through a second, formal fact-finding mediation process.

The parties are still far apart on big-ticket issues like salary and benefits and teacher hours. The district has proposed a 8.2% increase over three years. FTA has asked for a more than 15% raise over that same time period.

The reporter can be reached at (559) 441-6412, or @hannahfurfaro on Twitter.

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