The last thing that BTU cared about under Pat Santeramo’s leadership was the plight of the majority of Broward teachers.

Years of criticism over the step scale led to three (count ’em, three) steps deleted from the teacher scale.

And it still takes teachers at least a decade and a half (that’s fifteen years for those of you in SouthWest Ranches) to arrive at the first “jump” step.

That’s still fifteen years for teachers at what amounts to slave wages, not that the “jump” itself is anything to write home about.

Yet the School Board negotiated yearly raises of anywhere from 3% to 6.75% when I was a member.

But somehow that money never wound up in the pockets of most teachers.

Most were complaining via e-mail about $100 (per year) raises while senior members got $4, $6, and $9,000 raises.

Top scale teachers got the bulk of the money while junior teachers got bupkis. (Yiddish for “nothing.”)

And then Santeramo’s BTU had the absolute audacity to parade those underpaid teachers in front of the media calling the School Board and Legislature “tightwads.”

And now feelers are out about increasing membership dues, because of the mismanagement of “the crew.”

Likely, such an increase will come sometime in the not too distant future.

The majority of those members who will pay that increase are the very same members screwed by the step scale system.

It’s one thing for a unit member that received a two, six or even nine thousand dollar raise to pay an extra $10 per month in dues.

Even if that raise was three years ago.

But it’s quite a different thing for a member who received only a $75, $295, or even $400 raise three years ago, or even this year’s $500 “bonus.”

For those folks, it isn’t worth paying dues at all.

Here’s my view of the same kind of “fairness” that BTU contracts have shown teachers…

The union should place its dues structure on a step scale as well.

Let’s say $5 per month for each year a teacher earns under $44,000 per year with a $1 per month increase for each $200 yearly increase in salary above that level.

Advanced degree stipends won’t count in the figures  since many, if not most teachers won’t get advanced degrees, only base scale.  And even if they do, the step raises are still an outright insult to the image of professionals.

Of course, the teachers that jump in scale by $2,000 in a single year would have their dues scaled up to pay $100 per month in dues (instead of $50) while those who hit the $9,000 raise would be required to pay $250 per month in dues.

I’m quite sure that an appropriate step scale of dues can be worked out.

Not fair to charge senior teachers more in dues?

Neither are the 14 years of slave wages outlined in the teacher step scale.

The bottom line is that the union needs to negotiate the steps out of the contract in favor of real percentage increases for their membership.

With real percentage wage increases, BTU would be free to increase member dues by an appropriate percentage when the need arises.