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Charlotte Amalie
Monday, July 4, 2022
HomeNewsArchivesST. THOMAS TEACHERS VOTE TO STRIKE

ST. THOMAS TEACHERS VOTE TO STRIKE

Unionized public school teachers in the St. Thomas-St. John district have voted to strike rather than seek federal mediation for a new wage agreement with the government.
The strike vote came at a meeting Wednesday with the leadership of the American Federation of Teachers local 1825 at the Palms Court Harborview Hotel. Almost 300 teachers, paraprofessionals and support staff voted on three options: strike, seek mediation or arbitration, or remain status quo, working day to day until a successor agreement is reached. Sending the negotiating team back to the bargaining table for a better agreement was not among the options.
According to interim AFT President Vernelle deLagarde, the strike option received 154 votes from the 297 persons in attendance while federal mediation got 121 votes. She said 21 voted for the status quo and one member cast a blank ballot.
In defending the method by which the strike vote was taken, deLagarde said the union's executive council decided that a strike vote could prevail if 50 percent-plus-one of the members at the meeting voted to support it rather than a two-thirds majority of the union's 1,200 members.
"The St. Croix Chapter must now vote on whether they support the strike vote," she said Wednesday night. DeLagarde said that for a strike to take effect, a combined vote from both locals must be taken.
St. Croix union chapter president Tyrone Molyneaux said late Wednesday that he had not yet scheduled a membership meeting because he wanted to allow time for teachers on St. Croix to become familiar with the administration's proposed wage agreement. He said a similar meeting could be called for St. Croix teachers "in a couple of days."
DeLagarde said that the strike vote resulted from the administration's insistence that 50 percent of retroactive pay owed teachers be forgiven. Some union members speaking on condition of anonymity cited language in the proposed agreement that strips teachers of increases between 1995 and 2000, which in the end will affect the retirement benefits of members who want to retire in the next three years.
One teacher said if they forgo the step increases, they will not receive retirement contributions or Social Security for those years calculated into retirement benefits.
There was no immediate reaction from Gov. Charles W. Turnbull on the teachers' vote although one Government House insider suggested that the governor would likely issue a statement Thursday.
The last AFT strike in the territory occurred in 1992 under the Farrelly/Hodge administration.

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Unionized public school teachers in the St. Thomas-St. John district have voted to strike rather than seek federal mediation for a new wage agreement with the government.
The strike vote came at a meeting Wednesday with the leadership of the American Federation of Teachers local 1825 at the Palms Court Harborview Hotel. Almost 300 teachers, paraprofessionals and support staff voted on three options: strike, seek mediation or arbitration, or remain status quo, working day to day until a successor agreement is reached. Sending the negotiating team back to the bargaining table for a better agreement was not among the options.
According to interim AFT President Vernelle deLagarde, the strike option received 154 votes from the 297 persons in attendance while federal mediation got 121 votes. She said 21 voted for the status quo and one member cast a blank ballot.
In defending the method by which the strike vote was taken, deLagarde said the union's executive council decided that a strike vote could prevail if 50 percent-plus-one of the members at the meeting voted to support it rather than a two-thirds majority of the union's 1,200 members.
"The St. Croix Chapter must now vote on whether they support the strike vote," she said Wednesday night. DeLagarde said that for a strike to take effect, a combined vote from both locals must be taken.
St. Croix union chapter president Tyrone Molyneaux said late Wednesday that he had not yet scheduled a membership meeting because he wanted to allow time for teachers on St. Croix to become familiar with the administration's proposed wage agreement. He said a similar meeting could be called for St. Croix teachers "in a couple of days."
DeLagarde said that the strike vote resulted from the administration's insistence that 50 percent of retroactive pay owed teachers be forgiven. Some union members speaking on condition of anonymity cited language in the proposed agreement that strips teachers of increases between 1995 and 2000, which in the end will affect the retirement benefits of members who want to retire in the next three years.
One teacher said if they forgo the step increases, they will not receive retirement contributions or Social Security for those years calculated into retirement benefits.
There was no immediate reaction from Gov. Charles W. Turnbull on the teachers' vote although one Government House insider suggested that the governor would likely issue a statement Thursday.
The last AFT strike in the territory occurred in 1992 under the Farrelly/Hodge administration.