FORESTVILLE TEACHERS PREPARE TO STRIKE

Last Chance Negotiations Session Disrespectful of Teachers Time: Forestville Teachers Prepare for August 12th Strike

100% Strike Vote Includes Backing by Sonoma County Teachers Unions

IMMEDIATE PRESS RELEASE

After two years of bargaining, Forestville teachers met with the district managers (new superintendent, district’s attorney, and two board members) on Wednesday, July 24th with the hope of averting a strike and having a positive agreement to begin the school year.

Unfortunately, once again, the district was unprofessional and not prepared to negotiate by disrespectfully wasting the teachers time. Earlier in the week, the teachers had asked the district attorney's for an actual written proposal to clarify a brief email that was sent to the teachers but contradicted by a Facebook post on the district page by the new superintendent. A written proposal was never given to the teachers.

Therefore, after the district attorneys verbally clarified the district’s proposal at the table on Wednesday, the teachers presented the attached proposal to the district managers that essentially accepts the Fact Finder’s recommendations on every article with the exception of a third year with an off schedule bonus. Forestville teachers’ wages and healthcare are already so far behind the rest of the county, region, and state that accepting this a third year with an off-schedule bonus and closing bargaining for three years on healthcare, as the district proposed, is unacceptable. After a brief caucus, the district attorneys told the teachers that the district was unable to negotiate any further as the district’s bargaining team did not have board authority to respond to the teachers’ proposal. The district attorneys said the board had two deal breakers that were part of the teachers’ proposal: 1) No retroactive wage increase for the 2018-19 school year; 2) A three-year contract in order to have “labor peace.” In short, district managers want to financially penalize the teachers for the district’s unprofessional delays in bargaining for the last two years and they do not want to address the teachers wholly inadequate healthcare in the coming years. On this issue, the Fact Finder’s report very clearly stated that “there has been insufficient justification presented for a change in the basic approach contained in the present CBA [collective bargaining agreement], nor was there a compelling reason presented for closing negotiations on Article 24 Health and Welfare Benefits.” Teachers made it clear that they are not accepting off schedule payments and, if the district wants labor peace for three years, the district needs to make it worthwhile by truly addressing their wholly inadequate pay and healthcare.

“In order to recruit and retain the best educators for our students we need agreements that address teachers’ very real cost-of-living concerns. Teachers are our students’ most important resource. We’ve done our homework and FUSD managers can afford our proposals. The bottom line is Forestville teachers are underpaid, especially with the real cost-of-living here in Sonoma County, and FUSD managers can do something about it. Once again, they choose not to,” Graziano said, adding that FUSD mangers are violating district policy by maintaining over $1.8 million, or 43.63%, in unrestricted reserves from last year. The required state minimum reserve is 5%.”

On April 29th Forestville’s 16 teachers unanimously voted to go on strike, putting the FUSD managers and school board members on notice that they will no longer tolerate the disrespect shown to teachers at the bargaining table and in person. “You can’t put students first if you put teachers last,” said FTA President Gina Graziano, a music teacher.

The teacher unions throughout Sonoma County say they will support Forestville teachers, who plan to go on strike the first day of school, August 12. Other Sonoma County teacher unions are facing similar challenges at the bargaining table. Educators in West Sonoma County High School, Harmony and Two Rock districts have taken strike votes and four others, Twin Hills, Wilmar, Bellevue and Cloverdale, are in the impasse mediation process.

Sonoma County educators are committing to solidary actions in support of the Forestville teachers, ranging from online support and contacting school board members, to discussing the situation with possible substitutes, attending rallies, and posting “We Stand With Forestville Teachers” signs in homes and businesses.