Home News Local news Governor: Impasse Broken in Teacher Contract Negotiations

Governor: Impasse Broken in Teacher Contract Negotiations

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Feb. 29, 2008 — After negotiations between local teachers and Collective Bargaining officials came to a standstill earlier this week, Gov. John deJongh Jr. said Friday that both sides have finally reached an agreement that would enable the negotiation process to move forward once more.
For the last few weeks, teachers have demonstrated during their lunch breaks, calling for the Office of Collective Bargaining to step up the pace of its ongoing contract negotiations with the two American Federation of Teachers unions in the territory. Job actions have also taken place at schools on St. Thomas and St. Croix, with schools shut down on the big island because too many teachers called in sick.
The issue was eventually taken to court, with V.I. Superior Court Judge Julio Brady issuing a temporary restraining order earlier this month to prevent members of the St. Croix union from engaging in any more protests. A statement was subsequently issued by Jessica Gallivan, chief labor negotiator for Collective Bargaining, saying unions and the government had come to "an impasse" in the negotiation process. (See "Teachers Union Meets On Contract Talks.")
Calling on help from the executive branch, union members sat down with Gov. John deJongh Jr. and other government officials Friday on St. Thomas. Both sides have decided to remove all pending proposals from the table and resume negotiations for three days at the end of March, the governor said in a statement issued Friday evening.
Talks will continue on dates previously scheduled for both April and May, the release said.
"I was pleased at the opportunity to meet with both Mr. Tyrone Molyneaux and Mrs. Vernelle de Lagarde to discuss not only the differences that have caused the apparent breakdown in negotiations, but to see how we can resume discussions towards a new contract for the teachers, support staff and paraprofessionals," deJongh said Friday, after he wrapped up the three-hour meeting.
Collective-bargaining agreements for AFT members on St. Thomas-St. John expired in August 2007. On Friday, de Lagarde — AFT's district president — said she would recommend that the expired contract be extended until May 31.
"We have long awaited the opportunity to discuss with the governor where we stand on negotiations," de Lagarde said. "The contract-extension recommendation is based on this meeting taking place."
Collective-bargaining agreements for AFT members on St. Croix will also expire at the end of May, she added.
Negotiations with AFT unions have been underway since June 2007.
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