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Charlotte Amalie
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Tentative Contract Agreement Reached for Teachers

Aug. 27, 2008 — After an announcement early Wednesday morning that officials from the territory's two teachers' unions had rejected another contract offer from the government, word came around 5 p.m. that a "tentative agreement" had been reached between the two parties.
Both announcements came from Jessica Gallivan, chief negotiator for the Office of Collective Bargaining.
"I don't know why it was said that we rejected the offer — we neither accepted or rejected it," said Tyrone Molyneaux, president of the American Federation of Teachers on St. Croix. "We just received an offer from the government that we will be presenting to our membership at 4 p.m. Friday in a meeting at the St. Croix Educational Complex."
When contacted Wednesday evening, Molyneaux said he couldn't reveal the details of the four-year agreement, but said the contract's value was somewhere around $25 million.
The back and forth between the unions and the government reached a head earlier this month after the Public Employees Relations Board (PERB) declared an impasse in the negotiation process and ordered that the matter go into mediation. Two months before, union members rejected the government's first contract proposal, which was put together after more than a year of negotiations between the two parties.
The initial $20.8 million contract would have run from Sept. 1, 2007 to Aug. 31, 2011. Under the proposal, teachers and professionals with degrees would have starting salaries of $34,000 and top salaries of $71,261 by 2010. Instead of a salary increase for 2007-2008, teachers would get a one-time bonus of $1,700. (See "PERB Calls for Mediation in Teacher Contract Dispute.")
Both sides have been in mediation for the past three days, but the process seemed to stall around 3 a.m. Wednesday. At AFT's request, negotiations continued and finished late Wednesday afternoon, according to Gallivan.
“We are pleased to have reached this next step in the negotiations process," she said in a statement Wednesday. "Both parties have been discussing the terms of an agreement in good faith and have now settled on this temporary agreement. We look forward to continuing the effort in order to bring about a contract agreement that works well for both parties."
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