School district victory over teachers union and automatic raise in Madison County

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (WCTV) — In Madison County, the teachers union and school district met Monday to try to break a stalemate in contract negotiations.

The district wants to end the automatic raises that have been part of teachers’ contracts for years.

Madison County schools officials say the district can no longer afford the automatic pay raises.

The teachers’ union said Madison County teachers are among the lowest paid in the state, which will only lead to more staffing issues.

The two sides have been going back and forth since January 2021 before the last contract expired.

A spokesperson for the teachers’ union said they were simply asking for a salary competitive with surrounding counties.

“It’s a slap in the face for all of us. We come, we worked on COVID and all that ensued and we had to revamp the way we do business and they slap us around saying they don’t care,” Caulette Hicks said.

Hicks said employees are already leaving to go to nearby school districts for higher pay.

“It’s hard when I see people say they’re not going to stay here anymore because they don’t value us or appreciate what we do and what am I supposed to say to that because that I watch what they do try to do and I have no argument against what they say,” Hicks said.

WCTV contacted the school district for more information and Madison County Schools Superintendent Shirley Joseph provided the following statement.

“Madison County School Board (MCSB) and Madison County Education Association (MCEA) have gone through several months of collaborative negotiations for the 2021-2022 school year. We have reached tentative agreements on all contractual language changes for units teaching and support staff. The only question that remains to be resolved in this impasse is whether the school board will continue with the automatic step wage increase for certain employees. Due to the $15 minimum wage mandate and other new laws on how teachers’ salary increases are prescribed, automatic step increases are no longer viable.

The Madison County Schools superintendent said the district is working to align with other school districts in the state that don’t have automatic pay raises in their contracts.

The school district won 4-1 against the teachers union, eliminating the automatic raise that has been part of teachers’ contracts for years.

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