Rockford teachers on strike: District says two sides close to an agreement, Tea Party to protest strike
Online Staff Report
Teachers in Rockford Public School District 205 began their strike today, Thursday, March 29.
The Rockford teachers’ union — the Rockford Education Association (REA) — and the District 205 negotiations team worked late into the night Wednesday, March 28, in attempts to reach a tentative agreement that would have averted the strike. However — as has been the case in more than 50 meetings over 11 months — the two sides were unable to come to an agreement.
According to District 205, the two sides were close to reaching an agreement March 28. However, the school district was obligated to notify parents of school cancellations for March 29, and an agreement could not be reached prior to the cutoff time for the notification to be sent out. The two sides will meet again Thursday, March 29.
The strike brings to a halt all school functions, with school, sporting events and other activities all canceled. More than 28,000 students are enrolled in the district.
The REA voted 1,500-74 in favor of the strike March 26. Teachers have been without a contract since July 2011.
Strike instructions call for teachers to picket their respective buildings, with picket lines expected at every District 205 school building.
The teachers’ union has also purchased 30-second advertising spots on local television, which have already begun airing.
Rockford Public School District 205 released the following press release March 28:
ROCKFORD PUBLIC SCHOOLS DISTRICT 205 MAKES SIGNIFICANT PROGRESS WITH REA, BUT NO AGREEMENT REACHED AND REA GOES AHEAD WITH STRIKE
District to implement comprehensive strike plan to keep students safe
Rockford School District 205 announced that it made significant progress toward a new agreement with the REA after a long day of bargaining. However, while the parties are close, the parties are not in agreement on all issues and are unable to finalize the details of the agreement in writing even if they worked overnight.
Therefore, the REA said it would still conduct a strike against Rockford’s public schools on Thursday.
For the safety of our students, the district had an obligation to timely notify parents and students of the REA’s decision to strike.
“We hope to get back to the bargaining table tomorrow to finalize the details and we hope to have the kids back in school as soon as possible,” said Dr. Robert Willis, interim superintendent of the Rockford Public Schools.
For more information on the status of negotiations, please visit www.205teachernegotiations.com.
Tea Party to protest teachers’ strike
The Rockford Tea Party has announced it will protest the teachers’ strike. According to a press release, the Rockford Tea Party will meet at the Rockford Public School District 205 Administration Building, 501 Seventh St., at noon, Thursday, March 29.
“The Rockford school teachers are unhappy with the school district offer to increase their salaries between 2.5 and 9 percent over the next three years and with the additional requirement to pay $700 extra a year for family plans on their Cadillac health insurance plans,” the Rockford Tea Party press release stated. “An analysis of the top 800 teachers shows that they currently make about $82,000 yearly, on average. That is half the teachers in the district. A strike tomorrow will hurt children and hurt this community. Our community is already facing devastating economic conditions. Many people are very upset about this looming strike, which will put many families in an even more difficult position. Please join us in voicing your disapproval with these teachers’ lack of compassion for the residents and taxpayers of this community.
“If not us … who? If not tomorrow … when?
“We, the Tea Party, are the only organization standing up to teachers’ unions.”
Posted March 29, 2012
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