Fort Lauderdale, Fla. Nov. 8, 2012 – Members of the Broward Teachers Union Education Professionals Bargaining Unit voted 87 percent yes to 13 percent no today to ratify the tentative contract agreement reached by the union and the School Board of Broward County on Oct. 16, paving the way for the instructional staff to begin receiving their first raises in four years and setting the foundation for future negotiations.
BTU Election Chair Oliver Bythewood said 29 percent of Broward schools’ 14,223 instructional staff cast ballots in the contract ratification and 3,616 education professionals voted to ratify the tentative agreement and 521 teachers voted against the pact. He said Broward’s school board members will now vote on the tentative agreement on Tuesday, Dec. 4 during their regularly scheduled meeting.
BTU Administrator John Tarka who actively participated in the negotiations process by personally attending the contract negotiations sessions thanked the union’s negotiations team and the staff of the union’s national affiliate, the American Federation of Teachers, and the union’s state affiliate, the Florida Education Association, for the invaluable support they provided in reaching the agreement and for helping the union move forward.
In what union leaders describe as a positive step forward that lays the foundation for future contract talks, the agreement provides members with step movement for the ﬁrst time in three years. The step movement takes effect after January 1, 2013.
Additionally, teachers on the top step of the district’s salary schedule will receive a $500 payment that will be applied to their salaries and will count toward their retirements. Teachers on salary schedule steps 1 to 17, who have low step increases, will receive equity bonuses.
After lengthy negotiations, district officials agreed to drop their demand that teachers pay for the school system’s $372 health insurance premium increase per employee. The district’s negotiators agreed to continue funding the individual teacher’s health insurance at 100 percent and to work with union officials to find ways to lower the cost of family and dependent coverage.
The agreement also includes many contract language improvements.
The negotiations agreement was made possible, in part, by a team of public education finance experts from the AFT who spent months studying the district’s budget and worked with school officials to find the funding for the contract’s raises. A pivotal point in the negotiations process appeared to take place when a team of officers and staff from the local and national unions presented the AFT financial experts’ findings to School Board members during their public budget hearing on Sept. 11. Along with the help of FEA negotiations experts, the union exhaustively searched the district’s budget for money to fund the agreement.
“Negotiating during one of the largest economic downturns in our nation’s history was certainly a challenge; however, the union’s negotiators did their very best for all members considering the school system’s current financial situation,” Tarka said.
BTU’s President-Elect Sharon Glickman joined the negotiations process after members chose her as one of the top two candidates to become the union’s new president. President-Elect Glickman went on to become the union’s new leader on Oct. 23.
Following today’s contract ratification tabulation, she said the nation’s economic downturn has had an incredibly harsh impact on the district’s teachers. The union remains committed to resuming contract talks in order to continue negotiating raises, affordable health insurance and improved working conditions.
“Today’s vote sends a very clear message by the union’s members that they want to continue moving forward in a positive direction,” Glickman said. “This agreement is only one step on our way to negotiating additional step and salary increases as the economy improves. Even though we encountered real differences during the contract talks, the negotiations represented a strong collaborative effort between the union and the school district.”
ABOUT BROWARD TEACHERS UNION
Founded in 1969, the Broward Teachers Union organizes and represents about 11,000 members who work for the School Board of Broward County and City of Pembroke Pines as education, technical support, charter school, and education support professionals. It is the second largest local teachers union in Florida and the sixth largest in the nation. The union’s affiliates include the Florida Education Association, the American Federation of Teachers, the National Education Association and the AFL-CIO. For more information about BTU, visit (www.BTUonline.com). Follow BTU on Twitter (@BTUCOM). Find us on Facebook at (www.facebook.com/BrowardTeachersUnion).