Burlington teachers vote to strike next week

Burlington teachers
Teachers surround Burlington Education Association President Fran Brock on Thursday as she announces a teacher strike to begin Wednesday. Photo by Kelsey Neubauer/VTDigger

BURLINGTON — The city’s teachers have voted to go on strike Wednesday if the school board doesn’t agree to reopen contract negotiations.

The vote came Thursday in response to the board’s imposition of salary and other terms on the union last week. The sides remained deadlocked after months of talks.

“Call us, and we’ll come back to work,” said Fran Brock, Burlington Education Association president.

Ninety-five percent of teachers voted to strike. “There was no question,” Brock said.

A spokesperson for the school board could not immediately be reached for comment Thursday.

This is the second year in a row the Burlington union has voted to strike after the board imposed working conditions. Last fall an agreement to resume negotiating averted a walkout just hours before it was to begin.

This year the two sides again failed to reach agreement on pay increases and health care contributions. Teachers also hoped to continue negotiations about their schedules, Brock said during informational picketing Tuesday.

Without further negotiations, high school teachers could be assigned a sixth class instead of being able to use the time for preparation and student-directed programming, she said.

The South Burlington school district also decided to impose working conditions on its teachers last week after 10 months of negotiations.

Gov. Phil Scott called for districts and teachers to compromise for the sake of students.

Burlington School Board Chair Mark Porter has said the terms the board imposed were fair and fit student needs and the ability of the community to fund education.

Brock said the decision to strike is in solidarity with 100 colleagues who have chosen to leave the district in the past five years.

The delay between the strike announcement and planned walkout is to make it possible for parents and students to make adjustments, Brock said.

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