South Washington County teachers without current contract for 243 days, talks with district continue

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Marty Fridgen heads up United Teachers of South Washington County.

"Every time we start bargaining, we feel like we're going to get this done, we're going to move along and it just doesn't work out that way," Fridgen said.

She said this is the third year in a row the union has gone to mediation with the district.

"The No. 1 thing we are working on right now is the financial package, which we just can't come to terms with, we are looking for more of an average settlement which the district is not offering us at this time," Fridgen said.

On Thursday, teachers started work to rule actions, meaning they will work their seven and one-half contract hours per day.

"It is a lot to do, to be a teacher and to meet all the needs, and we're still going to do that during work to rule, we're still 100% with our students, we're putting in everything we can, but we're working our contract," she said.

It's an action other unions have taken, which is why she said a letter received from the district was a surprise.

The letter states, in part, if an employee engages in a work slowdown or abstains from duties on a regular workday, it could be considered an illegal strike and termination is possible.

"There's just a lot of the letter that we disagree with," Fridgen stated.

The school district would not talk on camera, but at the school board meeting last week the superintendent shared his thoughts with a full room of teachers.

"I look at your faces, I see you in the classroom and I watch what happens, then we get into trying to manage a district without funds. I am sorry we are in a discussion where it feels you are unvalued, and I'll leave it at that and thank you for your dedication to our kids," said Superintended Keith Jacobus. You can read his full statement here.