Home News Local news NEGOTIATIONS START BETWEEN AFT AND GOVERNMENT

NEGOTIATIONS START BETWEEN AFT AND GOVERNMENT

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Aug. 25, 2001 – The territory’s American Federation of Teachers union and the Turnbull administration have agreed to negotiate across-the-board salary hikes for teachers and staff.
Following a bill passed earlier this year aimed at increasing the starting salary for entry-level teachers in the public schools, Turnbull administration and AFT officials began talks Monday on ways to raise the wages of teachers already in the system. On Thursday, St. Thomas AFT president Glen Smith said the two sides agreed to ground rules that broach the subject of across-the-board raises.
"We passed that hurdle," Smith said, and now it is on to "hard bargaining."
Sen. Norman Jn Baptiste, chairman of the Senate Education Committee, prompted the new negotiations through an amendment to Gov. Charles Turnbull’s request for $10 million to pay salary step increases to government workers. Jn Baptiste's amendment authorized the governor to reopen negotiations with the St. Croix and St. Thomas-St. John AFT unions to increase entry-level salaries of public school teachers.
Turnbull’s pay increase to government workers came after an AFT strike led to a contract agreement late last year that saw meager increases for teachers and staff. At that time, Turnbull said the government couldn’t make a better offer.
In light of the subsequent pay raises, teachers now want in on the increases.
"Clearly, the ground rules include negotiations for all three bargaining units" made up of professional teachers, para-professionals and support staff, Smith said.
Karen Andrews, the administration's chief negotiator, didn’t return calls Thursday.
Under the contract agreed to by AFT members and the Turnbull administration, AFT officials said teachers lost five years of salary and step increases, which equated to more than $50 million. By reopening negotiations to address starting salaries, Jn Baptiste said teachers will be included in the plan to pay government employees their raises by October.

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