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Union to Fresno Sub Teachers: Follow Your Conscience on Whether to Cross Picket Lines



Fresno teachers are still preparing for a strike Wednesday. Will subs replace them? (GV Wire/Jahz Tello)
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The union that represents Fresno Unified substitute teachers appeared to take a step back from actively advising substitute teachers not to cross picket lines if teachers go on strike on Wednesday.

The Fresno Area Substitute Teachers Association, a chapter of the SEIU Local 521, announced Thursday that the chapter membership had voted unanimously to support the Fresno Teachers Association and to encourage substitutes not to replace striking teachers in classrooms.

FASTA’s announcement was hailed by FTA but prompted Fresno Unified to file both an embargo and an unfair labor practice charge against FASTA with the Public Employment Relations Board.

Late Friday, the union appeared to amend its early announcement with a follow-up statement from FASTA chapter president Esther Rojas-Jasso saying the union was continuing its support for FTA but also was committed to honoring its contract with Fresno Unified.

However, FASTA members could choose “the right to exercise their conscience to honor any picket line if that is what their conscience tells them, which is their individual statutory right under the Educational Employment Relations Act,” Rojas-Jasso said in Friday’s news release.

Fresno Unified also sent out a news release acknowledging FASTA’s updated news release and noting that “unions often show public support for one another.” But the district is confident that the “vast majority” of more than 2,300 substitute teachers will show up on Wednesday if teachers strike.

Side Letter Signed This Month

Fresno Unified and FASTA signed a side letter agreement agreeing that subs would be paid $500 a day if regular classroom teachers go on strike.

The letter was signed on Oct. 17 and listed Eduardo Bedolla as the FASTA president.

Officials with FASTA did not respond to queries Monday from GV Wire about the union’s step-back from actively encouraging subs to respect picket lines, and why two different people are identified as FASTA’s president on the contract and the news releases.

FUSD spokeswoman Nikki Henry did not respond Monday to queries about whether the district would continue to seek an embargo and unfair labor charge with PERB in light of the union’s follow-up news release.

Fresno teachers have been working without a contract since June. The union has identified four major contract issues: tying teacher pay to the rate of inflation, requiring the district to maintain the current level of contribution to the self-funded healthcare fund, reducing class sizes, and reducing special education caseloads.

Nancy Price is a multimedia journalist for GV Wire. A longtime reporter and editor who has worked for newspapers in California, Florida, Alaska, Illinois and Kansas, Nancy joined GV Wire in July 2019. She previously worked as an assistant metro editor for 13 years at The Fresno Bee. Nancy earned her bachelor's and master's degrees in journalism at Northwestern University's Medill School of Journalism. Her hobbies include singing with the Fresno Master Chorale and volunteering with Fresno Filmworks. You can reach Nancy at 559-492-4087 or Send an Email

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