FORT PIERCE, Fla. - Classroom Teachers Association President Vanessa Tillman said she can't believe 300 St. Lucie County school district employees and administrators are eligible to receive a one-time $500 bonus, and teachers are not.
"You would think, as leaders and employers of the district, you would want all your employees to have it, since you have the authority to do this," Tillman said.
Assistant Superintendent of Human Resources Sue Ranew said the district did set aside $4 million dollars to award the bonus to all employees, but since CTA/CU unions did not reach an agreement on contract terms, they were not eligible to receive the bonus at this time.
"That offer has been with the bargaining units, but, to this date, they have declined to accept it," Ranew said.
"Even though the monies were offered to us, my people have said we want something that is sustaining," Tillman said, in response.
Ranew said the district is happy to provide the bonuses, even though finances could soon hit a rough patch from a poor economy.
"We just can't afford to provide the proposal that we've been offered by the bargaining unit," she explained. "This is what we can provide."
But Tillman said, even though $500 is a good amount of money, the unions are not ready to give in to their demands just for a one-time bonus.
"It's not fair, because you have created a divide and conquer," said Tillman. "You have said 300 people are eligible for this because they're not eligible to be in a bargaining unit, whereas others are because they can have somebody represent them."
The school board just declared an impasse this week, saying they can no longer negotiate with the employee unions.
This impasse comes after five months of bargaining sessions that have left the board and the union even farther apart. The CTA originally requested a 3.1% pay raise across-the-board, and their most recent proposal increased the raise request to 5%.