St. Lucie teacher contract talks hit impasse
Unlike in Chicago, Florida teachers don't get to strike when their contract talks hit a snag. In many ways, the teachers lose ground if negotiations end.
So when St. Lucie district officials called for mediation, amid concerns that their latest round of bargaining had put them "further apart than we were before," their union counterparts didn't immediately agree.
"We hope you’re not requesting mediation as a ploy to exclude employees and the public from this process," union chief negotiator Christine Hill said, according to the St. Lucie Tribune.
The concern is that once the contract leaves the table and heads to a mediator, the ultimate final step could be imposition of a decision by the school board - regardless of a mediator's recommendation. The union plans to let the district know within the week whether it wants to enter mediation.
"In the last six years, we’ve been the ones balancing the budget," Hill, a teacher at Palm Pointe Educational Research School, told the paper. "We should be first. First, not for cuts, but for our share of the pie, however small it might be. We are the ones on the front lines."
Many districts have struggled with difficult negotiations in tough budget times. Few have current deals in place. What can teachers do short of a strike to get what they want? How far should they go?