FEA union seeks politicians’ pledge on support for teacher pay hikes


The state’s largest teachers union kicked off an election-year campaign Tuesday aimed at getting Florida politicians to sign a pledge vowing to boost the pay of educators to the national average over the next five years.

The proposal could cost as much as $600 million, the Florida Education Association acknowledged.

PBC schools chief calls for $150 million hike in school property taxes

“Florida is a wealthy state … we can afford to make funding for education and educator salaries a priority,” said FEA President Joanne McCall.

Although salaries are decided by county school boards and vary widely, Florida’s average annual teacher salary is $12,000 less than the national average of $59,660. The FEA said that ranks Florida 45th in the nation when it comes to pay for teachers and school staff.

In a conference call announcing the pledge drive, McCall was joined by several teachers who talked about juggling second jobs to make ends meet.

High-poverty PBC schools twice as likely to give teachers low ratings

“Despite the challenges being a teacher in Florida, I love my job and I love my students,” said Brian Kerekes, an Osceola County teacher who works part time at Disney World.

Republican Gov. Rick Scott and the GOP-led Legislature approved a state budget five years ago that allowed for at least a $2,500 teacher raise. But that came shortly after Scott and lawmakers forced teachers and other public employees to contribute 3 percent of their pay to the state’s retirement system.

According to the National Education Association, teacher pay in Florida has declined by 12 percent over the past decade because of inflation.

The FEA is a steady supporter of Democratic candidates and has a combative relationship with Scott and many Republican leaders. Four of the Democratic candidates for governor already have signed onto the union pledge, along with a handful of the party’s candidates for the Legislature and other offices.

The FEA has its own election battle on its hands, with McCall challenged for the top post in the FEA by Vice President Fedrick Ingram. The contest, to be settled in October, could distract one of the Florida Democratic Party’s staunchest allies heading into a big election season.

The 140,000-member FEA is the largest labor organization in the Southeast.



Reader Comments ...


Next Up in Local

Changing CityPlace: A high-rise apartment complex may be coming
Changing CityPlace: A high-rise apartment complex may be coming

Downtown is about density — attracting enough people to bring it to life, to lure companies with well-paid employees, and residents and tourists with money to spend in shops and restaurants — but without overpopulating streets with cars or blocking sun and water views with walls of glass and concrete. And now in mid-sized West Palm Beach...
Gardens puts drinking water over money in picking buyer for land
Gardens puts drinking water over money in picking buyer for land

City officials selling six acres of surplus property picked the buyer who offered the least money but the firmest promise to protect the region’s current and future drinking water supply. RELATED: Seacoast Utility Authority drills new well in Palm Beach Gardens Seacoast Utility Authority’s offer of $865,000 for the land beat tennis pro...
Hundreds of Riviera Beach employees go unpaid in deposit glitch
Hundreds of Riviera Beach employees go unpaid in deposit glitch

More than 500 Riviera Beach employees didn’t get paid today, after TD Bank failed to post city deposits to their accounts, Finance Director Randy Sherman said this morning. According to Sherman, all employees who get paid by direct deposit were affected — which is roughly 520 people. Paychecks went out, but only a few dozen employees get...
BREAKING: Medical issue leads to mistrial in case of former judge’s slaying
BREAKING: Medical issue leads to mistrial in case of former judge’s slaying

A mistrial was granted Friday morning in the first-degree murder trial of James Scandirito II after a medical emergency involving one of the attorneys. Thursday’s court session was postponed after Circuit Judge Laura Johnson was told Scandirito’s lead attorney, Assistant Public Defender Elizabeth Ramsey, was hospitalized for unknown...
More Stories