Protestors outside of BTU office.
By B. Rossano
Broward county teachers are still awaiting the small pay raise the School Board of Broward County had promised them last year.
As negotiations went on inside the BTU building in Tamarac, teachers all over the county were wondering if a settlement would be reached. As tensions rose inside the building, a number of outspoken activists showed up to demonstrate in front of BTU.
Teachers held up signs saying, “Give us our raises,” and “Stop the lame game” as cars passed and honked. The teacher advocates were hoping to send a message to the negotiators inside, and to the School Board of Broward County that it was time to keep the promises made to Broward’s teachers.
The rally was not sanctioned by BTU. In fact, President Sharon Glickman tried to stop it from ever happening by sending every member an email message warning them not to show up!
BTU Alert was sent on the county email stating that, “a notice attempting to organize an unofficial rally has been circulated.”
“Organizing activities not born from the proper procedures risk undermining the efforts of the negotiations and the union as a whole, and therefore are strongly discouraged.”
Indeed, the rally had not been officially organized by BTU, but instead by a group of
stewards who have found themselves frustrated at the union’s inaction. The main organizer, Joan King, still frustrated over what the teachers lost in last year’s negotiations, was excited to get out the picket signs and stand on the sidewalk in front of the BTU. She said that drastic hourly pay cuts for high school teachers working an extra period, loss of step increases, and how the contract was torn apart, and steps changed to letter codes has affected teacher morale as well as their pocket books!
“I only have one year left…but what are the young teachers I mentor going to do? Many have lost any incentive they had to teach.”
King is not shy about expressing her feelings that she believes, “BTU President Sharon Glickman is incompetent. She is ruining BTU.” King said, “And everyone in the County knows it, from the teachers to the School Board. It’s embarassing. We need to get Glickman and this leadership out! Runcie is walking all over them!”
Disappointed that BTU did not sanction any rallies to boost negotiations efforts, and that BTU Leadership actually discouraged members from showing support for the rally she organized.
King is sending letters to union leaders in the hopes of getting the American Federation of Teachers (AFT) back in to run BTU. In fact, Janet Conner, an AFT representative was at BTU offices on January the 14 because members of the BTU Executive Board had made a motion to bring AFT back in to help the union in crisis.
However, instead of bringing support for Broward teachers, King, who has been attending all the Executive Board meetings held on the second Wednesday of the month, said the AFT representative seemed to be there to dissuade the BTU Board members. “It seemed like a scare tactic to me,” said King, “BTU needs a new leadership, and AFT needs to help, otherwise the teachers in Broward have no hope.”