A Territorial Court judge on Tuesday evening ordered more than 30 St. Thomas police officers back to work after they called in sick earlier in the day.
According to the governments motion for a temporary restraining order, approximately 33 of the 60 officers in the St. Thomas-St. John District who were scheduled for duty Tuesday morning did not report. Because the officers are classified as Class III employees under a collective bargaining agreement, they are prohibited from striking due to public safety issues.
The protests came in response to Gov. Charles Turnbulls plans to cut government by 15 percent in order to balance the fiscal year 2000 budget.
Also on Tuesday, some 20 firefighters in the St. Thomas-St. John District called in sick.
Union leaders for both groups said the actions were not sanctioned. As of Wednesday, police and fire service shifts were fully staffed.
At a protest with other labor leaders on Wednesday, Elmo Raymo, president of the St. Thomas Police Benevolent Association, said officers were tired of shortages in supplies and equipment.
"We must send a loud and strong message . . . that you, the people of Labor, deserve your raises too."
No job actions by police were reported on St. Croix on Tuesday or Wednesday, said Acting Police Chief Novelle Francis.
"Theres no blue flu happening today," Francis said on Wednesday. "I dont know about tomorrow."
Scores of teachers did not report to work on St. Thomas on Wednesday in order to attend Senate budget hearings where the Turnbull administration unveiled its government reorganization plan.
At the protest in Emancipation Garden, Glen Smith, president of the St. Thomas chapter of the American Federation of Teachers, said rank-and-file educators have been "suffering for far too long."
"Were sick and tired of economic deprivation," he said.
No actions by teachers were reported on St. Croix, said Chi Chi Heywood, first vice president of the St. Croix chapter of the American Federation of Teachers.
Heywood said the AFT is waiting for a full report on Turnbulls reorganization plan before St. Croix teachers begin a concerted protest.
"We do have a strategy planned," she said. "But were not going to reveal it at this time."
She said a full AFT meeting for the St. Croix chapter is scheduled for next Wednesday.
Heywood said AFT leaders from both districts and four senators met on Tuesday to discuss alternative ways to increase government revenues to fund negotiated contracts. There was also consensus that the Department of Educations budget should only be cut by 5 percent.
The AFTs revenue enhancement ideas include:
- Imposing a $5 head tax on cruise ship passengers.
- Taxing cigarettes, imported spirits and imported bottled water.
- Pursuing a return of gasoline excise taxes.
- Making sure Industrial Development Commission beneficiaries are adhering to their obligations.
- Requiring all semiautonomous agencies to contribute to the general fund.
- Eliminating exempt positions.
- Enforcing tax and fee collections.
- Funding the Government Development Bank.
- Implementing early retirement and hiring freeze, specifically for the executive branch.