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Broward Teachers Union Declares Impasse With School District Over Contract Negotiations

Walter Michot
Miami Herald
The Broward Teachers Union began contract negotiations in September 2019. They were looking to raise teacher pay by 3.5 to 5 percent. On Dec. 12, Broward Schools responded with an offer to increase pay 1.5 percent. The union declared an impasse.

The Broward Teachers Union, unhappy with the response from the Broward County School District,  declared an impasse over contract negotiations earlier this week.

Teachers have been negotiating for pay increases for the current school year. The negotiations began on Sept. 25. 

The Broward Teachers Union, or BTU, negotiations team had asked for pay raises between 3.5 and 5 percent. 

During negotiations Thursday, Broward County Public Schools told WLRN in a statement that it proposed salary raises of 1.5 percent, as well as the following: a 7 percent referendum supplement that’s already being paid, and a 0.44 percent referendum from additional collections for the 2019/2020 school year. 

Fusco told WLRN Friday that the district is misleading when it describes referendum money in its offer. 

“We’re not negotiating what we’re already getting,” Fusco said. “That's false hope to say to our teachers and our community...They gotta come back with a very healthy offer.”

Fusco called the proposed 1.5 percent salary increase “extremely insulting.” 

BTU represents more than 15,000 teachers across Broward County, according to the union. It also represents about 3,000 Education Support Professionals and Technical Support Professionals who work for the district. 

“All bargaining units are currently negotiating 2019-20 salaries,” according to a statement from the union. 

The school district said its proposal that BTU turned down was worth an 8.94% increase in compensation for the 2019/20 school year.

“The District is committed to continue negotiating with the BTU to reach a tentative agreement,” District Spokesperson, Kathy Koch, said in a written statement sent to WLRN on Friday.

The last time the union declared an impasse was over salary and working conditions in the 2015/2016 school year.

After the matter went to a special magistrate that sided with BTU, the school board voted in favor of a pay increase, while also voting to eliminate a supplement some teachers were receiving for teaching a sixth period, according to the Sun Sentinel

This time, if the two groups can't come to an agreement, the issue could go to a special magistrate for a recommendation - before it goes to the school board for a vote.  

State lawmakers are also set to consider a statewide increase in pay for starting teachers during the upcoming legislative session in January. 

Read More: Gov. DeSantis Teacher Pay Plan Leaves Educators With More Questions Than Answers

Gov. Ron DeSantis proposed an ambitious plan in October to attract and retain teachers in Florida by increasing the profession’s starting salary to $47,500. That would make Florida second for highest minimum teacher pay in the country.

However, the plan has drawn criticism from educators around the state over its lack of addressing veteran teacher salaries. 

“So many of our veteran teachers would be extremely upset” if the Legislature approves funding the governor’s plan in 2020, Fusco said. “[DeSantis] needs to come in with a plan to help us out... he’s not giving the big picture — it all has to be sustainable."

Caitie Muñoz, formerly Switalski, leads the WLRN Newsroom as Director of Daily News & Original Live Programming. Previously she reported on news and stories concerning quality of life in Broward County and its municipalities for WLRN News.
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