Despite every attempt by Forestville Teachers Association (FTA) to reach a fair agreement before the first day of school, Forestville Union School District (FUSD) managers refused to collaborate and avert the first teachers strike in Sonoma County in 39 years. As of this afternoon, no agreement has been reached and the 16 members of FTA are on strike.
*** UPDATE (Aug. 12 at 5 p.m.): Negotiations stalled out this afternoon when district managers refused to budge over a half-percent difference in the third year of a potential agreement. Forestville teachers will be on strike tomorrow morning at 7:30 a.m. at Forestville Elementary School, 6321 Highway 116, Forestville.
“After about six hours of negotiations, we ended up a half-percent apart. They refused to continue negotiating,” said FTA lead negotiator Ryan Strauss. “So here we are, striking today, tomorrow, the next day … until they reach out to us to continue negotiations.” ***
Forestville teachers and educators from throughout Sonoma County hit the picket line this morning after a last-hour negotiations session failed to produce an agreement before the school year started. FUSD continued its pattern of disrespect for Forestville teachers by arriving late for this morning’s negotiations and asking for multiple breaks within the first hour. FUSD’s attorney arrived nearly an hour late, immediately harassing and attempting to intimidate picketing educators instead of working to reach a fair agreement that ensures FUSD can attract and retain the best teachers for Forestville students.
“It’s on like Donkey Kong. We do not work until we get a fair tentative agreement,” said FTA President Gina Graziano. “We’re doing this for our students. We are striking for the same reason we became teachers: For a better future for everyone.”
The 16 members of FTA were joined on the picket line by CTA President E. Toby Boyd and members of the CTA Board of Directors, as well as parents, students and fellow educators from CTA locals throughout Sonoma County, the San Francisco Bay Area and even as far away as Paradise and Los Angeles.
“I can’t believe the outpouring of support we’ve had from our union brothers and sisters and all our friends who are out here supporting us and on social media,” Graziano said.
FTA and FUSD have been negotiating since November of 2017. FTA is asking for a two-year contract, with a 5% on-schedule salary increase each year and improved health care benefits for their families. The rural one-school district has $1.8 million in reserves (43%!) that it refuses to use to make sure its 263 students have the schools and resources they deserve.