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Burlington Teachers Vote To Strike If Negotiations Fail

Emily Alfin Johnson
VPR file
Edmunds Elementary School and Middle School in Burlington. The roughly 400 members of the Burlington Education Association have voted to strike if negotiations with the city's school board don't succeed.

The roughly 400 members of the Burlington Education Association voted “overwhelmingly” to go on strike if negotiations next week with the city’s school board don’t yield a negotiated settlement.

“We can no longer sit still and let the board make a mockery of the collective bargaining process,” said Fran Brock, a Burlington High School history teacher who serves as the union’s president.

Brock said the teachers’ union would strike mostly because the school board chose to impose a contract for the educators instead of continuing negotiations.

The union and the school board have been trying to negotiate a contract for the past year, but sticking points remain.

Last month, the board voted to impose a contract, which dictates the terms of teachers’ contracts for the remainder of the school year.

The vote to strike is an effort to force the board into negotiating a contract that both sides agree on.

“When the school board of commissioners chose to impose working conditions in September, they exercised a level of autocratic power that was unnecessary and dangerous,” Brock said in the lobby of Burlington High School Thursday. “An important principle is at stake. We cannot stand by and allow the board to set a precedent that could adversely affect future negotiations in Burlington and throughout the state.”

School Board Chair Mark Porter told VTDigger last month that the board had to impose working conditions because of budgetary considerations.

“I don’t have any money left,” Porter said, according to VTDigger. “Our hands are tied. The only way to give them what they want — the $900,000 — is cutting programs that people don’t want to see happen. It would be devastating to the kids.”

Brock said the teachers will begin their strike on Thursday, Oct. 20 if the board doesn't agree to a deal in mediated negotiations on Wednesday.

Taylor was VPR's digital reporter from 2013 until 2017. After growing up in Vermont, he graduated with at BA in Journalism from Northeastern University in 2013.
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