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Unions more important than ever, new Pinellas teachers association boss says

Marshall250 Times are tense for Florida school teachers. They face the threat of layoffs. Their work conditions are up for grabs. Raises? How about the possibility of pay cuts instead?

Into the fray in Pinellas comes newly appointed Classroom Teachers Association executive director Marshall Ogletree, no newbie when it comes to organized labor. His message to the rank and file: Keep the faith.

"I think in tough economic times, unions are more important than they’ve ever been," Ogletree tells the Gradebook:

"Throughout the state, and Pinellas is no exception, the immediate reaction of school boards is to say, ‘We have to cut pay. We have to cut hours or days.’ That is the immediate reaction. Without a union to say, ‘Hey, stop, wait a minute, let’s look at this,’ they can do whatever they want to do.

The union’s role is to solve problems, to work on the contractual rights that folks have – their salaries and working conditions. Without a union, would there be a 40-hour work week? Would there be child labor laws? A 30-year-old teacher might take for granted duty free lunches and planning periods. But the fact is, we worked long and hard to get those provisions in our contract. Teachers have walked picket lines to get those things into contracts. It’s important for folks to know there’s a rich heritage here at PCTA. Times are tough, but look at what PCTA has done and will continue to do in the future."

To learn more of Ogletree's views, visit the Gradebook at noon Saturday for a full interview.

- Donna Winchester, Pinellas education reporter

[Last modified: Tuesday, May 25, 2010 10:24am]


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