Substitute teachers advised to use their ‘conscience’ as Fresno teachers are set to strike


Fresno’s local substitute teachers union is telling its more than 2,000 members to “exercise their conscience” and respect picket lines if teachers go on strike next week.

The Fresno Area Substitute Teachers Association (FASTA) president, Esther Tojas-Jasso, also said the union is not engaging or calling for an “official sympathy strike” alongside the potential Fresno Teachers Association (FTA) strike in an emailed statement.

“We continue to express our support for FTA Teachers, and encourage our substitute members to exercise their conscience to honor the picket line if that is what their conscience tells them,” Rojas-Jasso said, “which is their individual statutory right under the Educational Employment Relations Act (EERA).”

The follow-up substitute teachers union statement was issued after the Fresno Unified School District said it was filing an injunction and unfair practice charge against FASTA for “bad faith bargaining” and violating a previously agreed and signed contract for telling substitutes not to cross picket lines.

Fresno Unified is dependent on FASTA’s thousands of teachers to keep district schools open if FTA teachers go on strike next Wednesday, Nov. 1.

The Bee reached out to FASTA again on Friday morning, after Thursday’s picket line-joining news, for comment and said it is standing by Rojas-Jasso’s updated statements.

While negotiations between the FTA and Fresno Unified continue, both parties have also prepared for a district-wide strike.

On Friday morning, the FTA enacted what they called the union’s “Day of Action” before the strike, sharing information about the issues they are concerned about and potential upcoming strike with parents and community members outside district schools.

Meanwhile, Fresno Unified agreed to allocate $3 million to cover expenses for schools to remain open and classes in session, including printed copies of curriculum and student activities, school supplies and extra health and security staff.

The district also said it is ready to pay substitute teachers a $500 per day rate, which it said is not funded by the $3 million, but by the salary that would not be paying teachers if they go on strike next week.