Teaching Profession

Lengthy Teachers’ Strike in Illinois Nears End

By Stephen Sawchuk — October 30, 2014 1 min read
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After nearly four weeks, a teachers’ strike in the Waukegan, Ill., school district appears to be winding to a close: The 17,000-student district and the union reached a tentative agreement late on Oct. 30. Classes are expected to resume next week.

“We are grateful to the entire Waukegan community that struggled with us through these difficult times,” Waukegan Teachers’ Council President Kathy Schwartz, said in a joint statement with the district.

“Both the board of education and I have witnessed first hand a great passion for education from parents, students, and community members,” added Donaldo Batiste, the district’s superintendent.

Teachers walked off the job Oct. 2 after labor and management could not agree to new contract terms. Major sticking points included salary increases, contract length, and health benefits. The strike roiled the district, which serves a predominantly low-income student body and relations remained tense throughout last week: A packed school board meeting Oct. 28 ended in chaos after a board member began shouting at parents in the audience. A day later, Governor Pat Quinn directed the chairman of the state board to intervene and help the parties to reach a resolution.

Most details of the tentative agreement, such as the precise amount and distribution of salary increases, haven’t been disclosed yet. A union spokesman did say that the contract would last for three years; the district had originally sought a two-year contract.

It was not clear whether the finalized contract would require teachers to pick up some health-care costs, as the district had proposed.

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A version of this news article first appeared in the Teacher Beat blog.