Teachers’ union to meet with school district at 1 p.m., March 28, as possible strike looms
Online Staff Report
The Rockford teachers’ union will meet with members of the Rockford school district at 1 p.m., Wednesday, March 28, as the two sides try to come to an agreement before a teacher strike begins March 29.
Rockford teachers have been working without a contract since July 2011. The two sides have met more than 50 times over the past 11 months and have yet to come to terms.
The teachers’ union — the Rockford Education Association (REA) — voted 1,500-74 in favor of a strike March 26. Barring a tentative agreement with the school district, members of the REA are planning to begin a strike Thursday, March 29. The strike would be the first teachers’ strike in Rockford since 1984.
In a March 26 press release, Rockford Public School District 205 Interim Superintendent Dr. Robert Willis said, “Let me be clear — no one wins in a strike.
“We have tremendous respect for our teachers, but we must balance their concerns with our primary mission, which is to address both the current and future instructional needs of our students,” Willis continued. “Our students must come first.
“The district has been reasonable in negotiations and has made significant change and compromises,” Willis added. “The district’s approach and position on the primary issues has remained constant.”
Following four hours of failed negotiations March 25, REA President Karen Bieschke said: “This is outrageous. We have been bargaining for 11 months with over 60 negotiations sessions. With the education of over 28,000 students hanging in the balance — the REA was prepared to get this done today. We did our homework and came prepared. Why didn’t Superintendent Willis and his team do the same‘?”
Teachers at the March 26 union meeting, held at the Coronado Performing Arts Center, were given written instructions about picket lines and other information about the walkout.
Strike instructions call for teachers to picket their respective buildings, with picket lines expected at every District 205 school.
The teachers’ union has also purchased 30-second advertising spots on local television, which are to air during the strike.
More than 27,000 students are enrolled in Rockford public schools.
Posted March 28, 2012
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