Teachers strike averted in South Burlington

Schools in South Burlington will be open Wednesday after an early morning agreement averted a planned teachers strike.

A tentative deal between the teachers and school board was reached at 2 a.m. after 10 hours of mediation, according to a statement by the school district. Talks began Tuesday evening.

“We are pleased to have reached a reasonable settlement that averts a strike,” Board Chair Elizabeth Fitzgerald said. “With the budget pressures the District is facing, we believe the agreement is in the best interest of the students, the community, and the teachers.”

The teachers union had said they would go on strike beginning Wednesday after the last round of talks, an eight-hour bargaining session that ended last Friday morning, failed to produce a deal.

A federal mediator helped to broker the successful negotiations last night.

After months of negotiations, the school board voted in late August to impose working conditions on the union and then requested the union start negotiations for the following year. The union refused and said it would not negotiate until the imposition was lifted.

The Burlington Free Press first reported the tentative deal.

A union representative, Kathy Murphy, told the Free Press that teachers could vote on the deal as early as Thursday. The school board reportedly offered a 4.47 percent raise over two years on Friday, which the union rejected.

Other issues in the contract talks have included how much teachers will pay for health insurance. The Scott administration has been pushing communities to have teachers pay 20 percent of health care premiums.

South Burlington voters had rejected the school budget twice earlier this year, demanding cuts to further reduce local property taxes. Some residents voted against the budget to protest the district’s decision to drop “Rebels” as the schools’ sports moniker.

In neighboring Burlington, teachers went out on strike for four days last week until a deal was reached.

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