Strike gains less than 1% over 3 years by idling Bourbonnais students for week

Strike gains less than 1% over 3 years by idling Bourbonnais students for week

The Bourbonnais Education Association walked out, gaining 10.25% over 3 years rather than the 9.5% the district offered before the strike. Students lost a week of school.

Pre-kindergarten through eighth grade students were able to return to their classrooms March 12 after a teachers’ union strike in Bourbonnais School District 53 kept 2,452 of them home for a week.

The union strike ended late Thursday after an agreement was reached between the Bourbonnais Education Association and the school board, guaranteeing a 10.25% raise in teacher’s salaries by 2024 in addition to an 18% increase in retirement benefits.

The union, representing 167 teachers, speech pathologists and social workers, and the district started negotiating in April. The latest contract expired at the start of the school year in August, igniting a new round of negotiations.

The strike was declared March 3, after district leaders made a counteroffer with raises totaling 9.5% over three years to the union’s 11.25% demands. Despite working through a federal mediator, the parties were unable to reach a compromise and the union called a strike.

“We did everything we could to prevent this from happening,” Bourbonnais Education Associate President Lauren Lundmark said when the strike was called. “We would much rather be in our classrooms with our students, but instead we are fighting for them out on the picket line.”

Lundmark claimed the district failed to provide benefits and compensation competitive with neighboring districts. The school board responded by insisting the union demands were more than other local districts were able to offer, even before the COVID-19 economic downturn impacted school finances.

“The Board has attempted to meet every demand of the BEA with the sole exception of agreeing to unsustainable pay increases that would negatively harm the District in the future. The Board is the steward of taxpayer funds and cannot violate its oath by ignoring the future consequences of these decisions,” the statement read.

The union and the school board ultimately settled on a three-year contract that includes salary increases of 3.75% the first year, 3.5% the second year and 3% the third year, and an 18% increase for retirement benefits.

With the strike’s resolution, both parties stated they can return their full focus to what matters most: students.

While the labor unrest is over for now, teachers who believe their students are better served with them in the classroom than on the picket line have an option. By choosing to leave the union, teachers are guaranteed all the benefits provided in union contracts without being subject to union authority.

Teachers interested in opting out of the union can request assistance and the appropriate paperwork at

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