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Teachers union leaders meet with governor; Union and Governor Build Momentum for Addressing Problems in Public Schools

AFT press release, 6 April 2000

CONTACT: Darrell Capwell

St. Thomas, Virgin Islands - Top local and national leaders of the American Federation of Teachers (AFT) met with Governor Turnbull to discuss initiatives from securing federal money for repairing public schools to dealing with the impending teacher shortage. Nat LaCour, executive vice-president of the AFT, opened the meeting by reiterating the request that the governor declare a state of emergency in the public schools.

The AFT delegation asked the governor to join them in a campaign with the two AFT locals, the St. Thomas-St. John Federation of Teachers and the St. Croix Federation of Teachers. The campaign would seek support from the business community and the local community in addressing the urgent school infrastructure and teacher shortage issues.

"There are many ways the unions and the administration can work together to solve the serious problems we are facing," said LaCour. "We look forward to working with the governor in addressing the needs of our students, teachers and the entire public school community."

Specific proposals discussed in the meeting include:

  • Seeking $928,000 through the Department of Education in unused bonds available to the Virgin Islands for building and repairing schools.
  • Seeking support and contributions from the large businesses on the islands.
  • Building a broad coalition of support for the schools among other community groups such as churches and civic organizations.
  • Seeking FEMA loan forgiveness at the national level.

Also attending the meeting were Cecil Benjamin, president of the St. Croix Federation of Teachers and Glen Smith, president of the St. Thomas-St. John Federation of Teachers.

The American Federation of Teachers represents more than one million teachers, school paraprofessionals, higher education faculty and staff, nurses and other health care professionals, and state and municipal employees.