On March 12, 2014, more than five hundred members of the Fresno Teachers Association attended that evening's scheduled meeting of the FUSD Board of Trustees.
First, they met outside the District offices on Tulare. As they did, they waved signs, stacked up copies of the 'C.O.R.E. waiver books' into piles and (while waiting for the meeting to begin) gathered in large numbers in a restaurant across the street. Most of these teachers arrived well before 6:00 and had to purchase parking, but that didn't deter them from attending:
This is what teacher power looks like, gradually building steam...
In other words, there were lots of people here to express their displeasure with the district's failure to negotiate and its participation in the 'C.O.R.E. waiver'. Two days later, FUSD Deputy Superintendent Ruth Quinto went on the airwaves with KMJ's Ray Appleton and implied that there might possibly be a 'disconnect' between FTA's leadership (which numbers about 175 people, including all the Reps) and the general membership of FTA. That is, the 'rank-and-file', Quinto seemed to hint, doesn't really agree with or support this protest.
Quinto's assertion does not match the reality, which is that at least three hundred of the members in attendance were not part of leadership, but simply expressing their support for FTA's stance. In fact, so many were present that most had to wait outside the Board chambers, in the foyer and in the stairwell, craning their ears to hear what was said, and, (every now and then) cheering statements that supported the teachers and their concerns.
During open communications, FTA President Eva Ruiz addressed the Board and spelled out the things in the waiver that FTA's members found disturbing, and lectured the Board for failing to meet its responsibilities to the community:
FTA Bargaining Team member Scott Hatfield (Bullard High) spoke next, providing the teacher's perspective on how the (C.O.R.E. waiver-inspired) District proposals on additional minutes and days would affect the lives of teachers:
FTA Bargaining Team member Felicia Burrell (Tehipite Middle School) then laid out the financial disparities between teachers and the District. The district's financial health is outstanding ($60 million-plus annual surpluses, and oodles of projected new funding), whereas teachers have had effective wage cuts due to furlough days, slashed benefits and hikes in the cost of living:
FTA Bargaining Team member George Zepeda (Kirk Elementary School) then lit into the failure of FUSD's own team of negotiators. Not only are they engaging in 'surface bargaining' without any clear authority of their own to negotiate, the District's "team" has often taken three-four months to provide any response to FTA's proposals:
The entire time these team members spoke, other FTA members quietly brought in piles of the C.O.R.E. waiver books and stacked them, without comment, on the dais directly in front of the Board: