Teachers’ union victorious after a four-day strike
After four sweltering days standing together on the picket line, the 16 members of the Forestville Teachers Association won the contract they demanded from the Forestville Union School District — a 13% wage increase over three years: 5% in the first year, 5% in the second year and 3% in the third year.
In addition, the district agreed to raise its health care contribution for teachers from $775 a month to $900 month effective July 1 of this year. Next July, that will go up to $960 a month.
Many Forestville families came out in support of the teachers, with some students boycotting school in support of the strike. According to Superintendent Renee Semik, attendance was less than 50% on the first day of school. As the week wore on, school buses arrived nearly empty, and some of the parents driving their kids to school parked and joined the picket line. Some Forestville students brought signs of support for their teachers.
Heartened by the community’s support, Forestville Teachers Association President Gina Graziano called Thursday, the day of the agreement, “the best day ever.”
School was back in session on Friday morning with all 16 Forestville teachers in their classrooms and a school full of students.
Forestville’s new superintendent and principal of the junior high school acknowledged that it had been a bruising negotiation, but she was determined to look forward.
“I know that we will all need to work together to get past this difficult time and come together to heal and continue to build our community,” she said
Board president Josh Nultemeier, who was on the district’s negotiating team, echoed these sentiments. “My wish is that this agreement comes with peace, healing and new beginnings.”
Gina Graziano, president of the Forestville Teachers Association, said the teachers are thrilled to be back in the classroom — and inspired to help teachers elsewhere get the pay they deserve.
“We are so inspired by the outpouring of support we had from our parents, community, our classified staff and our union brothers and sisters! We all learned a lot, and now, we go forward with this new knowledge and strength to make our school better and support teachers all over west county who are caught in the same struggle.”