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Fewer Teachers' Strikes Are Reported This Year

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The 1993-94 school year opened around the country with half the number of teachers' strikes as last year, according to statistics from the National Education Association.

Although none of the strikes is in a major city, the threat of a walkout looms in the 79,000-student Cleveland district, where teachers are affiliated with the American Federation of Teachers.

As of late last week, the largest strike was in the 24,000-student Youngstown, Ohio, district, where some 1,000 N.E.A.-affiliated teachers walked off the job.

12 Strikes Nationwide

According to the N.E.A., teachers were on strike in 12 districts nationwide last week, compared with 24 strikes at this time a year ago.

Half the strikes are in Pennsylvania. Nationwide, the majority are in small to mid-size districts.

According to Larry Rubin, an N.E.A. spokesman, most of the walkouts stem from disputes over pay and health-care benefits. Disagreements over layoffs and the adequacy of preparation time also are on the table.

In Cleveland, the A.F.T. affiliate--which represents nearly 6,000 teachers--has threatened to go on strike in October if the district sticks to its latest contract offer.

The union last week was awaiting the results of an impartial fact-finder's review of the district's offer of no pay raise this year, a 1 percent raise in 1994-95, and a 2 percent raise in 1995-96, said Judith L. Oliver, the local's vice president.

Teachers are expected to vote this week on whether to accept or rejectthe fact-finder's conclusions, she said.

Donna Fowler, an A.F.T. spokeswoman, said the national union is keeping close tabs on developments in Chicago, where a budget crisis has forced the district to make deep cuts in its payroll and postpone the opening of school. (See story this page.)

In addition to Pennsylvania, strikes were taking place last week in Illinois, Michigan, and Ohio, according to the N.E.A.

Michigan experienced the greatest decline in strike activity this year, with only two walkouts, affecting no more than 5,000 students.

Teachers in 10 of the state's districts were on strike at this time last year, including Detroit, where a walkout delayed the start of classes for some 169,000 students for several days.

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