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Charlotte Amalie
Saturday, May 18, 2024


With little enthusiasm, St. Croix’s teachers will be back in their classrooms – after Tuesday’s election.
Members of the St. Croix chapter of the American Federation of Teachers will obey a Territorial Court judge’s order on Friday for them to return to work after a three-week strike. But many AFT members said at a candlelight vigil Sunday night in Christiansted that they will conduct a one-day protest Monday, a day before the general election, before going back to work.
Others said they would report to work on Monday but do as little as possible.
"I'm not doing anything," said Steve Bullock, a teacher at Elena Christian Junior High School. "I'm going in and sitting down."
St. Croix AFT president Tyrone Molyneaux said on Monday morning that union members on St. Croix will not defy the law.
"Our intention is to abide by that order," Molyneaux said of Territorial Court Judge Brenda Hollar’s preliminary injunction ordering teachers, para-professionals and support staff throughout the territory back to work.
Molyneaux, however, said teachers are by no means happy with Hollar’s decision or the performance of the Senate, the body charged with coming up with funding to pay teachers. Friday’s court hearing, Molyneaux said, was a "carefully orchestrated" maneuver that was "clearly political in nature."
"We are by no means rolling over and giving up," Molyneaux said, adding that the court order doesn’t allow the union to bargain with any strength.
On Friday, Hollar ruled that an impasse had been reached in negotiations between the AFT and the Turnbull administration and therefore the matter will go before the Public Employee Relations Board. If PERB cannot work an agreement, the matter will go to mediation. If a satisfactory solution still isn’t found, a three-member arbitration panel will decide.
If the full process is necessary, it could take up to two months for a contract to be signed.
Monday's one-day protest, the day before Election Day, is aimed at incumbent senators seeking reelection. Molyneaux blasted the Senate majority, led by Sen. Vargrave Richards, a former teacher and AFT leader, for not convening before the election to try to find money for teachers.
"They have failed miserably," he said.

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