East St. Louis teacher strike continues. Silence from the board.

East St. Louis

UPDATE – 10/9/2015 –

East St. Louis Federation of Teachers available to meet, but the district remains silent

Statement from the East St. Louis Federation of Teachers:

The union bargaining team is available to meet at any time to sit back down at the bargaining table and reach a compromise. The union side has been the only one to call for a meeting.  Since the strike began, the district team has not asked us to meet with them. In fact, Superintendent Culver has refused to make any counter offer or new proposal to end the strike. His priority needs to be on a compromise that gets our students back in school. The district team needs to come to the bargaining table with the authority to reach a settlement.

You can now use this link to donate to the East St. Louis Federation of Teachers Strike Fund and take a moment to sign this petition urging the Superintendent to negotiate a fair contract now.

McHenry board backs down on health insurance.


In what appears to be some common sense on the part of the McHenry, Illinois school board, they have reconsidered their decision to cut off health insurance.

We had reported earlier that a union member who had just given birth and was fighting cancer and on leave FMLA leave had her insurance coverage revoked.

I’m glad to report that the board has reconsidered.

This from the teachers union in McHenry:

As of this morning, the association received verbal confirmation that insurance for all members will be reinstated. Last night, members of the Board of Education reconsidered the path that had been taken on insurance and righted this wrong. We appreciate their willingness to change their minds and show a clear display of good will. That said, we truly appreciate the outpouring of support from our community as well. We cannot do this without you.

McHenry board cancels health insurance of striking teachers.

ct-ctfl-ctflct-mchenry-teachers-strike-met-1002--20151001 (1)

Schools remain closed with no bargaining scheduled until Thursday in McHenry, an hour northwest of Chicago. By Thursday, McHenry schools will have been closed for one week.

The McHenry teachers are fighting to preserve their salary schedule.

In a heavy-handed move that can only be described as cruel and heartless, the board has cut-off health insurance to the striking teachers.

We have saddening news to share with all of you. While we as teachers understand and accept the risks involved with a strike, there are several teachers that have not participated in the process due to the Family Medical Leave Act (FMLA). The School Board chose to cancel all of our Health Insurance policies (including those on FMLA) as of October 1st. This is truly disheartening for our members. For those out on FMLA, this is devastating. One of our members is currently fighting the battle of her life against breast cancer. She discovered this disease while pregnant with her 3rd child. She chose to fight for herself and her child, finding a way to fight the cancer and save the life of her baby. This situation has a tragic sense of irony as the School Board chose Breast Cancer Awareness Month to cancel her insurance plan. She gave birth to a healthy beautiful baby girl on October 2nd. Her fight continues.

We understand that this negotiation procedure is emotional and challenging for all stakeholders. But, there is no need to lose our humanity in the process. We had hoped that compassion and understanding would win out. We ask the board to reconsider penalizing those staff members that are on FMLA.

What many board members fail to realize is that often times strikes happen. It is a part of the collective bargaining process.

Unless their objective is to bust the union rather than come to a fair agreement, then the strike will be settled at some point, hopefully soon.

Actions like cutting health insurance will only poison the atmosphere between the teachers and the board for years to come.

McHenry teachers are still out. A rare part of collective bargaining.


McHenry teachers and their board still couldn’t reach agreement last night.

Today will be day four of their strike.

This is the second strike this year in the Chicago area that I have supported by walking the lines. There are others, like in East St. Louis, that are too far for me to get to. And it seems like there are others in the pipe line.

Many retired union teachers do this kind of strike support and, trust me, it is appreciated.

My blog post from Sunday has been reposted by McHenry teachers and others around the state. That pleases me, since that is what this blog is for.

As I was driving the hour back to Chicago from McHenry on Sunday I had time to think about unions, collective bargaining and how impressive classroom teachers are as organizers.

This is important in light of the possibility that the US Supreme Court may rule against our rights to Fair Share and agency fees very soon.

I was impressed, but not surprised, at how well organized the McHenry teachers are. It reminded me so much of the strike our local had back in 2003. Organizing ourselves is what teachers are trained to do. And we do it well. Collectively, we have every skill needed to run a strike.

And although teaching is often a solitary act of one teacher with a group of students, it has gotten less and less so. Working in teams has become more and more a feature of teaching.

Collective bargaining, including strikes, is a team sport.

To preserve and improve their salary schedule and to guarantee it for future teachers McHenry teachers voted to strike and do whatever it takes to come to a fair agreement.

No Supreme Court ruling about agency fees will matter if our union leadership remembers that.

What Bruce Rauner and the union-bashers need to remember is that before we won the right to collective bargaining in Illinois thirty years ago, there were far more strikes than there are now.

The right to collectively bargain a contract brought a period of relative labor peace to school districts around the state.

Undermine that right and more teacher strikes are inevitable.

And teachers know how to do it well.

We drove to McHenry this Sunday to support striking teachers in District 156.

It is an hour drive to the town of McHenry where high school teachers are on strike. A more organized and enthusiastic group of teachers would be hard to find.

At noon there was a rally to demonstrate support for the bargaining team. Speakers could barely be heard over the constant honking of supportive drivers rushing past.

The bargaining team and the board are meeting today, Sunday.

The team is hopeful and optimistic that they will be teaching tomorrow morning.

The issue, which seems to be the cause of most of the growing number of teacher strikes in Illinois, is the board trying to mess around with the salary schedule. McHenry Education Association leaders are holding fast on protecting their younger members and future teachers from being punished on the schedule.






Video and photo credit: Fred Klonsky

McHenry Community High School teachers are out.

Screen Shot 2015-10-01 at 3.39.43 PM

Teachers who are members of the McHenry Community High School Education Association are on strike over issues of contract language, salary, insurance, retirement, tuition reimbursement, athletics stipends, co-curricular stipends, summer school costs, sick days, and more.

ABC is reporting:

Teachers in northwest suburban McHenry are on strike in School District 156. Classes were canceled for 2,650 students at McHenry High School’s east and west campuses on Thursday.

All extracurricular activities were also canceled.

“We are wanting to make sure that we can retain our teachers. We have 20-percent of our teachers have four or fewer years of experience and we want to keep those teachers in our district before they go on to another district that will compensate them better and give them better benefits,” Heidie Dunn, teachers union, said.

Contract negotiations, which began in March, between the teachers union and district officials broke off around 1 a.m. Thursday. Teachers have been working without a contract since it expired in June.

The MCHSEA website is here.

Strike headquarters is located at 4117 Shamrock Lane in McHenry, Illinois.

Please go to the Facebook page and give your support.

Breaking: Prospect Heights District 23 has a tentative agreement.

Screen Shot 2015-09-21 at 7.03.02 AM

Prospect Heights Education Association President Bob Miller. Photo credit: Fred Klonsky

I just got word that the Prospect Heights Education Association and their board have a tentative settlement.

No details until it is submitted to the membership for a vote.

Membership is expected to vote on it tomorrow, Sunday.

Bargaining went on through the night.

The strike lasted two weeks.

There is no word on when teachers and students will be back in the classroom.

Congratulations to the teachers and their local leaders, including local president Bob Miller, for hanging tough.

Prospect Heights teachers charge unfair bargaining.

Screen Shot 2015-09-21 at 7.03.02 AM

Prospect Heights teacher union president Bob Miller. Photo credit: Fred Klonsky

There was bargaining last night in Prospect Heights between the Prospect Heights Education Association and the board. The main proposal coming from the board was that the teachers should go back to work without a contract for a cooling off period.

I talked with PHEA President Bob Miller and many of the teachers who were on the picket line.

They didn’t seem to need any cooling off.

They needed a contract.

Miller said, “We have had students out of the classroom more days than this board has been willing to meet and bargain.”

In a statement following last night’s bargaining the PHEA reacted to the cooling off proposal. “A cooling off period is not a solution to the problem.  It is delaying coming to a resolution.  There was some progress made tonight. Both sides will be back at the bargaining table at 6:00 on Monday, September 21.”

These are the salary proposals currently on the table:
PHEA: 2015-16   4.5%       2016-17   4.39%  2017-18   4.0%

Board of Education: 3.25% for wage earners under $90,720, 1.75% for wage earners over $90,720, for the life of the contract.

There is currently no salary schedule with step increases for years of service.