Unit 4 Teachers Vote To Authorize Strike
By Sean Powers
Most of more than 500 teachers in the Champaign School District voted on Wednesday to give their union the authority to go on strike.
The Champaign Federation of Teachers and the Unit 4 school district have been in contract talks since last May. While several issues have been ironed out during that time, Union President Cathy Mannen said there are still some sticking points.
"The teachers have been at work without a contract since school started," Mannen said. “It’s frustrating for teachers because some of the working conditions, things that we’re trying to resolve are impacting them in their day-to-day work."
Mannen added there are also some financial demands that are being discussed tied to salaries. She said the union would not ask for anything that it did not believe the school district could not afford. According to the union, teachers have made financial sacrifices in the last two contracts, and agreed to a salary schedule freeze in 2011, and a minimal 1.4 percent increase to the salary schedule last year.
School Board President Laurie Bonnett said the union’s current proposed pay raise would put programs, staffing, and opportunities for students at risk.
“One of the things that I can say is what they are asking for as it relates to salary, if I were to agree to that or if our board and our administration were to agree to that, I think resignations would be called for,” Bonnett said.
The vote to authorize a strike does not mean teachers are going on strike, just that they can. Officials with the union and the school district meet again next week with a federal mediator.