March 19, 2005 – For the second time in two weeks, union leaders are calling on St. Croix teachers to ratify a contract with the V.I. government. In an attempt to improve the terms of an agreement voted down by unionized teachers earlier, leaders of the American Federation of Teachers sat down again this week with government negotiators.
As he issued the call for a second contract vote, Tyrone Molyneaux, St. Croix union president, said negotiators weren't willing to add much more to what they believed was the best deal teachers could get.
"I guess there were some cold shoulders, mostly from the administration side, stating that this should have been accepted and so forth," the union leader said.
At the end of talks on Thursday night, union leaders decided to give the ratification vote another try. On Friday, Molyneaux hinted there would be some new concessions. However, he wasn't willing to say what those changes were.
"I really can't disclose the information. My members would have to have first-hand knowledge of what's being proposed," he said.
Details of the new deal will be revealed at a ratification meeting Tuesday at the St. Croix Educational Complex.
After the membership voted down the last offer, Karen Andrews, chief negotiator, spoke on a local radio talk show, expressing the belief that money was the sticking point. Andrews said she felt teachers deserved more pay, and the government might be in a position to offer more once officials had a better sense of how much revenue will be lost because of changes to the economic development program.
The economic development program has been in turmoil for months as the Treasury Department has promised to draw up new regulations concerning it.
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