March 31, 2005 The local chapters of the American Federation of Teachers, dissatisfied with two recent contract proposals offered to its membership, has decided to take further action against the V.I. government.
Vernelle de Lagarde, president of the St. Thomas-St. John Local 1825 chapter, said Wednesday afternoon that a survey will be released to membership in both the St.Thomas-St.John and St. Croix districts Monday to determine the next course of action for the group.
Earlier this month the government had offered ATF members a proposal with a one-time monetary allotment of $1.5 million to be divided equally among members for a three-year period. The ATF felt the proposal was an "insult to the members" de Lagarde said, and refused to accept the contract with a 253-64 vote March 9. (See "Teachers in Both Districts Reject Contract ").
The government then offered a second proposal a week later for a one-year deal covering this school year, expiring Aug. 31, that would allot the same $1.5 million or about $714 per teacher. Last Tuesday, the teachers' union once again rejected that offer with a 191-131 vote.
De Lagarde said Monday's survey would ask members to select one of five options for action to be taken. The options are: mediation/impasse, arbitration, extending contract on a day-to-day basis, slow down or strike.
"That's usually the last resort," de Lagarde said of striking. "But it is an option."
De Lagarde said "slow down" means the teachers would simply come in to meet their required hours but would not get involved with extra-curricular activities outside of the classroom.
"The membership felt that $714 was not going to take them anywhere," de Lagarde said of the AFT's rejection of the second contract. She said the teachers would have received that one-time payment and then gone back to receiving the same low salary.
After collecting Monday's survey, the AFT will bring the matter to a vote Wednesday, de Lagarde said.
The local AFT chapters represent more than about 2,100 K-12 teachers, paraprofessionals and support staff in the territory's public schools. The AFT's last contract with the government, which expired Aug. 31, has been extended until April 15, de Lagarde said.
Share your reaction to this news with other Source readers. Please include headline, your name, and the city and state/country or island where you reside.