TAMPA, Fla. — Teacher salary negotiations are usually settled at the beginning of the school year, but in Hillsborough County they continue to drag on.
"It's always frustrating when we’re deep into February and don’t have a contract," said Rob Kriete, president of the Hillsborough Classroom Teachers Association.
Kriete said teachers are overworked, underpaid, and have been stretched thin with over 400 unfilled teacher positions in the district.
"It took a really difficult job and made it nearly impossible. And teachers are covering other teachers' classes every single day. So they’re not getting the time to do their planning and grading and all the things a teacher does to make the class more effective for the kids to meet their needs," said Kriete.
It’s illegal in Florida for teachers to go on strike, so right now they are making a statement with a “work to contract” tactic. The union has instructed teachers not to do anything outside of their current contract until negotiations are reached. Meaning no after-school events, missed lunches, coming in early, or taking work home.
"So we’re saying hey, at the end of the day we need you to go home and be ready to come back and help the kids the next day," said Kriete.
Without a current contract, teachers have been working on last year's pay rates. The district and HCTA are meeting on Monday to further discuss contract negotiations.
The HCTA said they’re hoping to come to an agreement soon.