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HomeNewsArchivesTEACHERS AT TWO SCHOOLS PROTEST DELAY IN RETRO

TEACHERS AT TWO SCHOOLS PROTEST DELAY IN RETRO

Teachers at two St. Croix schools staged job actions Friday to protest the Turnbull administration’s move to delay negotiated pay raises.
About 80 percent of the teachers at Elena Christian Junior High School signed out sick, while teachers at Pearl B. Larsen Elementary School staged a sit-in. Additionally, those teachers taking the job actions declined to attend Black History Month events being held at the schools.
The protests came in response to a Government House announcement earlier this week that teachers’ checks with retroactive payment included will be distributed on April 19, May 17 and May 31. That schedule, however, runs counter to the agreement made between the territory’s two chapters of the American Federation of Teachers and the administration. Under the contract, payments were to be made 30 days after ratification, which occurred at the end of December.
The administration’s chief negotiator, Karen Andrews, said she and other government officials had met on Feb. 7 with St. Thomas-St. John AFT President Glen Smith to discuss the change, but St. Croix AFT President Tyrone Molyneaux said he wasn’t aware of the new pay schedule.
Because of the lack of input from the St. Croix chapter on the pay plan, the teachers at Elena Christian and Pearl B. Larsen said the government had reneged on the contract. All the while, said Janice Rohlsen, a teacher and AFT building representative at Larsen Elementary, teachers have been keeping up their end of the bargain by being in class.
"I think we’ve been disrespected so long," Rohlsen said. "And we continue to be disrespected."
Molyneaux said the protests at the two schools were not organized by the AFT, which must give notice of any job action to the government in advance.
"I’m unaware of an organized job action taken by members of Local 1826," he said. "But I can understand and sympathize with the teachers."
The wage agreement approved by union members in December after an 18-day strike was virtually the same as one rejected in October. But in the approved version, the government upped the amount of money provided to union members in exchange for forfeiting rights to negotiate salary increases for the five previous school years.
As for the new pay schedule, Molyneaux said the government should have to pay some sort of penalty for failing to live up to its agreement.
"The government should have proposed the change and the AFT could have negotiated it," he said.
The St. Croix AFT chapter will hold a general membership meeting Tuesday at 5:30 p.m. at the Educational Complex.

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Teachers at two St. Croix schools staged job actions Friday to protest the Turnbull administration’s move to delay negotiated pay raises.
About 80 percent of the teachers at Elena Christian Junior High School signed out sick, while teachers at Pearl B. Larsen Elementary School staged a sit-in. Additionally, those teachers taking the job actions declined to attend Black History Month events being held at the schools.
The protests came in response to a Government House announcement earlier this week that teachers’ checks with retroactive payment included will be distributed on April 19, May 17 and May 31. That schedule, however, runs counter to the agreement made between the territory’s two chapters of the American Federation of Teachers and the administration. Under the contract, payments were to be made 30 days after ratification, which occurred at the end of December.
The administration’s chief negotiator, Karen Andrews, said she and other government officials had met on Feb. 7 with St. Thomas-St. John AFT President Glen Smith to discuss the change, but St. Croix AFT President Tyrone Molyneaux said he wasn’t aware of the new pay schedule.
Because of the lack of input from the St. Croix chapter on the pay plan, the teachers at Elena Christian and Pearl B. Larsen said the government had reneged on the contract. All the while, said Janice Rohlsen, a teacher and AFT building representative at Larsen Elementary, teachers have been keeping up their end of the bargain by being in class.
"I think we’ve been disrespected so long," Rohlsen said. "And we continue to be disrespected."
Molyneaux said the protests at the two schools were not organized by the AFT, which must give notice of any job action to the government in advance.
"I’m unaware of an organized job action taken by members of Local 1826," he said. "But I can understand and sympathize with the teachers."
The wage agreement approved by union members in December after an 18-day strike was virtually the same as one rejected in October. But in the approved version, the government upped the amount of money provided to union members in exchange for forfeiting rights to negotiate salary increases for the five previous school years.
As for the new pay schedule, Molyneaux said the government should have to pay some sort of penalty for failing to live up to its agreement.
"The government should have proposed the change and the AFT could have negotiated it," he said.
The St. Croix AFT chapter will hold a general membership meeting Tuesday at 5:30 p.m. at the Educational Complex.