Palm Beach Post. It comes from two years ago. So we can expect the salaries are higher now and that Clements calculates that they are so high that they will offend teachers who have to pay $500 dues and make so little that they often have to work summers and second jobs.
But Clements owes this information to her union members. She withholds it because she suspects members will think it far too high given that the union is in bed with the administration and does not go to bat for teachers but manipulates the union so that it accords with the administration plots. Clements and another CTA teacher union honcho were at the Board meeting on the 13th but sat on their hands and withheld their support of the teachers who went to the mike to object to Elia's blitzkreig imposition of the 6th-period outrage before the Board had a chance to consider it. Clements' CTA is not in the teachers' corner; it is in the administration's pocket. It's time for Hillsborough County teachers to union shop for an honest union that supports the teachers for a change.
The Web site says that one has only to email to get information. I emailed for the entire union contract, which should be on line, not excerpts as it is now. I have got no answer.
Sides drawn in teacher union salary fray
By Kimberly Miller
Palm Beach Post Staff Writer
Sunday, December 05, 2004
Theo Harris says he didn't want this fight.
He definitely did not want the debate over whether he should be the highest-paid employee of the Classroom Teachers Association — a 20 percent increase in his salary — waged in public.
But here it is, on the new president's doorstep and threatening the strength of the fragile union that represents thousands of Palm Beach County teachers who plunk down $535 in dues each year with the hope that the union will get them bigger raises, smaller classes and a better health plan.
Elected in April with a 52 percent majority, Harris' opponents say the 30-year veteran educator would have done best to show his skills at the bargaining table and win them a battle before starting his own.
In essence, prove himself before getting a raise that will make him the second-highest-paid teachers union president in the state and take his annual base salary to at least $105,000 — $58,000 more than what the average classroom teacher in Palm Beach County earns.
Supporters, however, argue that the union won't get the respect it deserves until its president makes more money.
"As a teacher and career CTA supporter, I would be very proud to see Mr. Harris be justly compensated as the voice of all teachers in the district," Inlet Grove High School teacher Steven Silberberg said. "I do not believe he is out of line. He should get at least what the superintendent is making, if not more."
A subcommittee of union board members has studied the salary question and voted 4-2 to recommend that Harris earn $1,000 more annually than Executive Director Helene Samango, who is currently the highest-paid union employee with a base salary of about $104,000.
The theory — one supported by Harris — is that the president of an organization should earn more than the employees of that organization.
"If I'm going to be CEO, then I would like to be the person making the most," said Ron Leonard, who sat on the salary subcommittee.
The decision on Harris' salary likely will occur in January during a closed meeting of the board of directors. There is still some question over whether the vote must go to the general assembly of teachers who represent each school. Harris says it does not; some board members believe it does.
Either way, Harris has been concerned that the salary debate leaked outside board room chambers before a discussion there occurred.
"Technically, none of this should have gone to the public before it goes to the board," he said.
But in the way of teachers, the increase has become the chatter of break rooms and hallways and anonymous e-mails to the newspaper. Often paranoid about retribution, many teachers are unwilling to talk publicly about the raise. Ed Kopf, the elected vice president of the organization, also refused to comment and referred all questions to Harris.
Accusations of racism have even been levied by those who say Harris, who is black, has become a target of disgruntled teachers who supported former President Shelley Vana and her vice president, Karen Kay, who narrowly lost her bid for presidency to Harris.
"There is an underlying agenda to all of this," Leonard said.
Other teachers disagree.
"People are saying this is a black/white issue and it's absolutely not," said 17-year veteran teacher Terry Pitchford. "This is an experience issue. People who just start a job do not get a $17,000 raise."
If approved, Harris' new salary model would be unique in the state. Most teacher unions follow one of two models to determine their president's base salary, and it depends on whether the union has an executive director.
The National Education Association model, which is what Palm Beach County's teachers union has followed, includes an executive director who is in charge of the daily running of the organization. In this model the executive director typically earns the highest salary.
The American Federation of Teachers model has the president serving as executive director as well as president. In this model the president earns the most because of performing two jobs.
For example, the president of the 12,000-member Broward Teachers Union earns $120,512 annually, but serves as president and executive director.
Hillsborough County CTA President Jean Clements earns about $66,427 annually, but has an executive director who "runs the show," Clements said. Hillsborough's executive director earns about $85,000 a year.
The Miami-Dade teachers union is in the process of electing a president and has not decided that person's salary.
Harris refused to release the union's by-laws, constitution or policies, which could offer a guide to how a president's salary is calculated.
Former board members said the formula goes like this: The president earns his or her base teacher salary pro-rated for a 12-month employee.
That's how Vana was awarded her initial salary when she became president in 1998. The board of directors, however, changed their by-laws during Vana's fifth year to give her a raise. The new rule said that the president should earn 11 percent more than the highest paid associate employee. That brought Vana's annual salary to $88,000.
Kay, who was on the board when Harris' salary was decided, said members did not believe someone with no experience as president should receive the same salary as the outgoing president who served six years. So the board reverted to its original formula.
That meant Harris, who earns about $63,000 as a veteran teacher, would earn about $87,000 as president.
"They went against the old policy and came up with a new policy for me," Harris said. "I didn't ask for a raise, I asked for an increase and there is a difference."
Some union members are concerned, regardless of the outcome of the salary decision, that it already has weakened the union.
It may be too late for some.
"The interesting fact is this; I would not change jobs with (Harris) even if it would allow me to earn $106,000 dollars a year," said Wynnebrook Elementary School teacher Cheryl Schwartz. "Teachers work eleven-plus hours a day because we love what we do. But the first thing I am going to do Monday morning is this, call and cancel my membership with the union."
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