Mass Teacher Protest Set for Tonight
Tuesday, November 17, 2009
FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. - Protesters say they'll surround the K.C. Wright Building in downtown Fort Lauderdale starting at 5 p.m. today. They're meeting at the building, which houses the headquarters of Broward Public Schools, to protest what they call "corruption, waste, and ethics and worker-rights violations unseen in years." Several South Florida elected leaders face corruption charges for taking bribes and wasting already limited tax dollars available for public services.
Broward Teachers Union spokesman John Ristow says the union blames the corruption for the 400 school employees laid off in the last year, holding-back of cost of living raises, and a 45 percent increase in health insurance premiums.
"South Floridians have a lot to protest, with the repeated arrests of our public officials. It's betraying the public trust. When it comes to corruption and ethics violation, waste of tax dollars, it's an issue for everybody. "
Ristow complains that the school superintendent's wife receives free health care coverage, but the cost to employees for their families is skyrocketing.
"A lot of employees are really being forced to make difficult choices between putting food on the table or paying for essential medical needs for their family members."
Broward County is the fifth-largest school district in the country, and officials say they face declining tax revenues and budget shortfalls. Ristow says they are balancing the budget on the backs of the workers.
More information on the union view is at www.btuonline.com
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