TPS Board, Support Employees Union Unable To Agree On Pay Raise

Thursday, October 3rd 2019, 11:20 pm
By: Justin Shrair

Negotiations between Tulsa Public Schools and the union, AFT Tulsa representing support employees come to a halt as the district faces a $20 million deficit.

The President of the American Federation of Teachers Local 6049 said it's been more than 10 years since the last impasse. 

The school board selected their point-person who will serve as the district's liaison during the process while the union will select their represented. Both sides said they want this resolved as soon as possible.

After a short executive session during a special meeting with TPS's Board of Education, Chief Learning Officer Devin Fletcher was selected to represent TPS on a three person fact finding committee during the impasse. 

"We want to do more than we do, both because we care about our employees as individuals and professionals, but also because we need to be more competitive," said Tulsa Public Schools Superintendent Dr. Deborah A. Gist.

The President of AFT Tulsa Ed McIntosh said while he wishes they did not have to go through this process, but it's necessary. As it stands now, AFT Tulsa would like a 50 cent per hour raise.

"We want to have a fair and equitable exchange with the district. We are not hear to fight for them, our primary purpose for us is to provide the services that the school kids need," said McIntosh.

Tulsa Public Schools said in the past they have raised the pay for support employees by 1.5%.

They said the 50 cent per hour raise is not doable or realistic because of the districts $20 Million budget deficit.

"It is a stretch for us to be able to afford what we've offered. People in Tulsa are familiar with the financial crisis that we are dealing with right now so I feel confident that we've done what we are able to do," said Superintendent Gist.

McIntosh said there are about 2,600 support staff which include mechanics, bus drivers, and custodians who are effected by a raise. 

"I'm not playing games, this is serious to us, very serious," said McIntosh.

"While its not nearly what I would like to do and its not nearly what we should be doing as a community we outta provide wages that allow people to live within our city," said Superintendent Gist.

AFT Tulsa will be selecting their representative soon.

Dr. Gist said she is confident the district and AFT will get to an agreement.

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