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Sunday, July 21, 2024


The president of the St. Thomas-St. John Federation of Teachers union, Glen J. Smith, is calling on Gov. Charles W. Turnbull to allocate the money from the AT&T water pollution settlement to pay public school teachers a portion of their back pay and negotiated salary increases.
Smith, in correspondence to the governor, suggested that, like vendors who are owed for services rendered, the teachers are entitled to a payout.
"It would be in the best interest of the governor and the economy of the Virgin Islands if the money is disbursed to the teachers and other government workers so they can begin their Christmas shopping," Smith said Monday.
The money Smith spoke about is $2.3 million, half of the amount the government realized in a settlement from the telecommunications giant. The long distance company was fined for causing a drilling mud spill during cable laying operations in St. Croix's Butler Bay. By law, half of any environmental settlement must by deposited into the Union Arbitration Award and Increment Fund.
Asked whether the average payout to government workers would amount to a significant portion of what is owed to unionized teachers, Smith said it is more a question of principle than amount.
"I don’t know what formula the governor will use to distribute these funds," he said, "but during these difficult financial times, every penny counts."
There has been no public response from Government House to the AFT president's recommendation.

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