ST. JOHNS COUNTY, Fla. – A group of teachers in St. Johns County plans to protest their salaries on Wednesday, calling it “Work to Contract Day.”
This comes after pay negotiations between the union and school district stalled.
Teachers will be working only the 7.5 hours they’re paid for -- nothing more -- during this protest, and the St. Johns County teacher’s union is leading the charge.
Florida law prohibits teachers from going on strike so walking out after working specific hours is how the teachers’ union is taking a stance against their wages.
The walkout, which is starting on an early release day in St. Johns County, is likely to continue until a deal is reached between the union and school board.
The teachers huddled in front of the flag poll Wednesday before walking in together at 7:45 a.m. Each teacher wore red to symbolize action and change.
A father whose children attend Osceola Elementary School told News4JAX he thinks the teachers are doing the right thing.
“Teachers are underpaid,” Chris Ellis said. “And for the salary and wages, they put up with a lot of abuse. They do.”
District officials have declared an “impasse,” meaning an agreement could not be reached between the parties in negotiation.
This comes after an intense debate last week as the St. Johns Education Association argued for a higher pay raise for veteran educators.
The most recent deal was offered in December and did include a modest pay raise, but 77% of teachers rejected it.
The union said the offer didn’t increase veteran teachers’ pay enough, especially in a county with a high cost of living.
The St. Johns Education Association has voiced its concerns about unfair wages at multiple St. Johns County School Board meetings.
The current average teacher salary is just over $51,000, according to the school district.
For perspective, that’s $11,000 more than the county’s average median income of $40,000 based on data reported by MoneyGeek.com.
The report also found the county to be unaffordable for those making the county’s median income and ranked St. Johns County 18 out of 26 most unaffordable counties in the nation.
Under Florida law, the St. Johns County School Board gets to make the final decision on how teachers are paid.