Chicago, Philadelphia Teachers Reach Pacts; Seattle Still Out
Teachers in Seattle remained on strike late last week, while teachers in Chicago ended a one-day walkout and those in Philadelphia approved a new three-year contract.
Strikes disrupted the beginning of school in a number of other districts in Illinois, Michigan, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, and Vermont.
According to Howard Carroll, a National Education Association official who has been monitoring teacher strikes nationwide, earlier predictions of a decrease in the number of walkouts this year appear to be holding up. As of midweek, he said, fewer than 20 NEA-affiliated unions were reporting strikes, compared with 41 as of Sept. 18 last year.
Only two affiliates of the American Federation of Teachers had reported strikes as of last week, including the Chicago union, which settled its dispute. Scott Widmeyer, an aft spokesman, noted that the number was "down considerably" from the 10 affiliates on strike at the start of school last year.
Seattle Strike Vote
On Sept. 3--the day they were to have reported to work--Seattle teachers voted 1,684 to 545 to strike. According to Marsha Leslie, a spokesman for the Seattle Public Schools, the main issues were class size, extra pay for extra workdays, and compensation for materials and supplies.
Teachers in Chicago were widely expected by late last week to ratify a new two-year pact with the city's school board. Under the contract, the teachers would receive 6 percent raises this year and conditional 3 percent raises next fall.
Next fall's increase would depend on the ability of the school board and Gov. James R. Thompson to persuade the Illinois legislature to appropriate an additional $50 million in aid to the district. Governor Thompson sent his senior staff assistant, James Reilly, to Chicago last week to help negotiate the settlement.
In Philadelphia, a strike was averted after Superintendent of Schools Constance E. Clayton and the school board dropped demands that teachers work a longer day and year and devote their daily 45-minute preparation period to school-related matters.
"We took the issues off the table because the only alternative was a strike," explained William Jones, a spokesman for the district. "We continue to feel strongly about these educational reforms, but at this point in time we felt they were not worth a strike."
Under their new contract, Philadelphia teachers will receive 4 percent salary increases this year and 6 percent raises in each of the following two years.
Elsewhere in the nation:
Some 1,600 teachers in Flint, Mich., the state's second-largest district, continued a strike that began last week. A spokesman for the United Teachers of Flint, which is affiliated with both the AFT and the NEA, said the union and the school board "haven't seen much progress."
Strikes also continued in Pontiac, Marquette, and Linden.
In Pennsylvania, 170 elementary-school teachers in the Roman Catholic Diocese of Pittsburgh remained on strike, as did teachers in the the nearby Greensburg diocese. Also striking were public-school teachers in the Blairsville-Saltsburg, Montour, Peters Township, and Southwest Butler districts.
In Rhode Island, teachers were on strike in the Newport, Pawtucket, and Warren districts. New agreements between teachers and school boards were reached in the Johnston and Richmond districts.
Vol. 05, Issue 02, Page 4