Proviso teachers’ union rejects truce as strike keeps 4,200 students out for 8 days
The Proviso teachers’ union declared the strike over compensation March 4, canceling classes for the district’s 4,200 students for 8 days so far. The local school board tried to call a time-out to get students back in class, but the union refused.
Classes were canceled for an eighth day Mar. 17 for the more than 4,200 students in Proviso Township High School District 209 because of a teachers union strike across the district’s three high schools.
Proviso Teachers Union Local 571 refused to take a break and give students a week back in class while the sides cooled off. The truce was proposed by the suburban district west of Chicago to advance negotiations while bringing students back into the classroom.
District 209 School Board President Rodney Alexander said all classes will be canceled through at least March 17, when negotiations will resume.
“Under this ‘cooling off’ proposal, our students would have been the winners and neither side would have lost,” Alexander said. “We are disappointed that the union refused to consider this option, even knowing that a continued strike will only further disadvantage our students after almost two years of learning loss due to the COVID-19 global pandemic.
The previous Proviso teachers’ union strike in 2010 saw students locked out of classrooms for 10 days.
The current strike over compensation sees union leaders demanding a 13.25% increase in salary over a three-year contract for all members in addition to “longevity” bonuses of $1,850 over two years.
Alexander said the District 209 school board continues to look for compromise, but remains resolute against promising unsustainable salary increases the district cannot afford.
“The district remains firm in our position that salary increases at the level being demanded by the union are neither sustainable, nor in the best fiscal interest of our parents and other local resident taxpayers,” Alexander said.
“We want a fair multiyear contract that compensates our teachers fairly and competitively for their work, while operating within the financial means of our district.”
None of the states bordering Illinois allow teachers to strike and use students as pawns. Illinois teachers unions have used strikes 48 times in a decade to get their demands.
And it could get worse: Amendment 1 on the Nov. 8 ballot would grant most public unions the power to strike over virtually endless subjects, promising longer and more frequent union strikes. The Chicago Teachers Union has shown just how militant those demands could be by pushing their social agenda on housing, immigration, “restorative justice,” wealth redistribution and defunding the police.
For the 2 million Illinois public school students, voter approival of Amendment 1 would mean seeing their teachers spend more time on the picket line and less time in the classroom.