An allegation of “union busting” in Hillsborough

Stephanie Baxter-Jenkins is executive director of the Hillsborough Classroom Teachers Association. [MARLENE SOKOL | Times]
Stephanie Baxter-Jenkins is executive director of the Hillsborough Classroom Teachers Association. [MARLENE SOKOL | Times]
Published May 10 2018
Updated May 11 2018

Emerging from an unsuccessful bargaining session on Wednesday, teachers union leader Stephanie Baxter-Jenkins lashed out at the Hillsborough County School District in a blistering social media post.

Writing on the Hillsborough County School Board Whistleblower Facebook site, Baxter-Jenkins began with an explanation of the union's latest request to the district – that all teachers should earn what they were expecting under the existing salary plan, including those who were due for raises this year and in 2018-19.

"This district wants us to treat this year like it never happened and we do not plan to do that," she wrote.

She continued:  "But let me be 100 percent clear. This district wants to cut all of your pay, while they continue to pay high cost administrators. Don't get me wrong, administrators are employees too and they also deserve fair treatment. However, there is a big difference between a person who makes 90,000 going without a raise and a person who makes $25,000 or $38,000 going without a raise. The district doesn't appear to be taking back admin raises or reverting to their old scale, but they want to do that for those who actually educate kids all day, everyday. That is simply not right.

"And if you don't think this is one big union busting action on the part of the district you are not paying attention. They were in favor of 7055 and they want employees to get upset and blame the union. Make no mistake, the union contract stops them from doing a lot of things they want free reign to do, such as force you into any position at any school. And that will just be the beginning.

"Whether you are in the union or not, if you are an employee of this district, you should be at the Board meeting next week. Your taxpayer dollars are being used against you as employees so we can give out contracts and continue to bloat the management ranks. How many teachers think you need an admin or 20 who are part of the achievement network (or whatever the name du jour is) to tell you how to teach kids? I'm betting you'd all rather have the ability to do what is needed in your classrooms without ridiculous make work and edicts from people who haven't taught in 10+ years. Wouldn't it make more sense to use proven methods that support students and families and provide things they are lacking, like food, child care, laundry, health care. The basics. And by the way, wouldn't you happily teach at a place where teachers are respected, not jammed into a cookie cutter, test crazy model that is only supported by millionaire foundations with no actual teaching expertise?

"Being a teacher or support professional doesn't give your employer the right to treat you like indentured servants or people unworthy of accolades for pretty much everything they claim as an accomplishment. I'll be at the Board meeting next week and I hope hundreds or thousands are standing with me."

The Hillsborough Association of School Administrators on Wednesday challenged Baxter-Jenkins' statement on Wednesday that the district cut only administrative jobs while slashing the teacher, teacher aide and clerical ranks by some 1,500.

HASA estimated that the administrative force has been cut by 20 percent, and some teachers challenged that claim.

Here is a table on job cuts that the district submitted to Mark Lurie, the impasse special magistrate who is preparing an opinion on the wage issue. I

Gradebook asked district officials, who generally do not comment during contract negotiations, if they wanted to respond to Baxter-Jenkins' remarks.

Grayson Kamm, the district's communications and media officer, issued this short response:

"We have put forward more than 30 million dollars to the Hillsborough Classroom Teachers Association for salary increases for its members. HCTA countered with a list of items that total 63.9 million dollars. It is our desire to continue to address these issues at the bargaining table."

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