Union postpones Halloween walkout
UPDATE: The East Baton Rouge Federation of Teachers released a statement Wednesday afternoon, stating that the school employee walkout will no longer be happening.
"It has come to our attention that ExxonMobil has decided not to place its requests for these exemptions on the agenda for Oct. 31 meeting of the Board of Commerce & Industry.
The members of the Support our Educators Coalition are therefore postponing the walkout planned for Oct. 31, permanently -- if the exemption requests do not return; temporarily, if they are placed on a subsequent agenda."
The announcement came after a statement from Exxon clarified that the application was not slated to appear on the council agenda on the 31st. You can read that full statement below:
"ExxonMobil’s applications were never on the Oct. 31 LA Board of Commerce and Industry (BCI) agenda, so we are curious why Together Baton Rouge and the teachers unions chose that day to walk out on students. Under the new state ITEP rules, the local jurisdictions will get a chance to review pending ITEP applications from ExxonMobil as well as from other companies after they are presented to BCI.
We believe this effort is another attempt by Together Baton Rouge to use citizens to promote their agenda. The Industrial Areas Foundation affiliate continues to single out ExxonMobil, although ExxonMobil is not the only company with pending 2017 ITEP applications."
BATON ROUGE - East Baton Rouge School System Superintendent Warren Drake has responded to a scheduled walkout one day after hundreds of employees voted to approve the move.
The one-day walkout on October 31 is an attempt to stop the approval of four new tax exemption requests from ExxonMobil, which would cost $6 million in school revenue. Sources say that much money is enough to hire 15 full-time teachers for 10 years.
The vote Tuesday was 446-6 in favor of the walk. No school administrators were in attendance during the vote.
WBRZ spoke with East Baton Rouge Parish Superintendent Warren Drake about the scheduled walkout. While Drake says he understands the purpose of the protest, he also said he believes in the education profession.
“We have to take care of our children, and that is our number one priority," Drake said.
Many in favor of the protest believe the funds could be spent elsewhere, including technological upgrades, new school buses, updated buildings, early childhood education and employee pay raises.
"Teachers need to make more. Employees need to make more. We understand that," Drake said. "While their intent may be good, the result of it is they're going to leave those students in the classroom."
Drake also mentioned the EBR School Board recently approved a $500 supplement for all employees.
Many parents might be worried about what will happen to their children if the employees follow through with the walkout. Drake says the school day will go on as planned.
"We'll take care of our children. That is a fact,” he said. “ I'm not worried about that at all. We will have people who will take care of our children."
When asked if employees could face discipline for walking out, Drake was unsure of any laws or rules in place.
The next board meeting is set for November 15, 2018.