School District 155 teachers made history last week.
According to District 155 Education Association President Justin Hubly, the teachers union voted to authorize a strike for the first time in its nearly 40-year history. Hubly said 99.4 percent of the membership voted to strike.
District 155 teachers have been working without a contract since July 1. The district is composed of Cary-Grove, Crystal Lake Central, Crystal Lake South and Prairie Ridge high schools. The average teacher salary in District 155 is $94,866. Because of where negotiations stand, the public is unaware of what either side is seeking in a new contract.
The vote allows the union to call a strike once the requirements of the Illinois Educational Labor Relations Act are met. A strike could be avoided if the board accepts a binding arbitration agreement offered by the union. A binding arbitration would authorize a third party to make a ruling that both the union and the board would agree to honor in advance.
The school board has called a special meeting for Thursday to discuss accepting binding arbitration. The board should reject binding arbitration because accepting it would take the negotiating out of the hands of anyone who’s accountable to taxpayers.
The union legally can strike 28 days after an impasse is declared.
We urge the teachers not to strike. By not striking, teachers will continue to earn the respect of students, parents and administrators.
Negotiations can be frustrating, particularly when they seem to be going nowhere. Walking off the job, however, is not the way to go about trying to get your way. It sets a bad example for students and divides the community.
We also urge the school board to continue negotiating in good faith. Listen to the union’s concerns. Keeping taxpayers and the best interests of the district and its students in mind, work hard to find common ground.
The unions and school boards owe it to taxpayers from each district to settle contract negotiations without a work stoppage.
It’s time to get a deal done so the community can move on.