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11th-hour talks cut off a pending strike in W. Chicago

Teachers at West Chicago Community High School were set to walk out on strike Friday, but a tentative deal was reached just before 10 PM Thursday between the teachers’ union and the school board, ending a period of work-to-rule and returning the school to its normal operations, including after-school clubs and activites, the Wildcat Chronicle, the student newspaper at the school, is reporting.

(Photo by Mayeli Vivaldo / student newspaper)

The teachers voted to authorize a strike on January 27, according to a report on NBC 5. District 94 and the union both posted final offers to the website of the Illinois Education Labor Relations Board on January 24, meaning that the earliest possible day for a strike to begin would have been Wednesday, February 7.

But negotiations continued as teachers decided to pursue a non-strike protest by “working to rule” or “working to terms.”

That means all teachers will only work during paid hours on certain days of the week. Teachers were arriving at school no earlier than 7:30 and leaving immediately at 3:10 on Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays, unless they had paid assignments before or after those times.

“Our students always come first, but we are tired of the board of education putting teachers, and the students we care about, last. We are through working extra hours without being paid,” Brad Larson, the union president, said. “Until the board appropriately recognizes the hard work of our teachers and what we do for our students, we are going to give the district exactly what it’s paying for.”

All indications are that the recognition came Thursday night in West Chicago, and things are back to normal once again for students, teachers, and the community. Teachers will officially vote to ratify the new contract on Wednesday, February 21, the Daily Herald reports.

“I have no concerns about the tentative agreement being ratified,” the paper quoted Mr Larson as saying, ending what has been an exceedingly long negotiation over a new contract, which began in April 2016. “We’re satisfied with the settlement. It lays a foundation for achieving the goals we set out, particularly those related to the district being able to hire and retain teachers over the long-term.”

Paul Katula is the executive editor of the Voxitatis Research Foundation, which publishes this blog. For more information, see the About page.

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