Metro-East News

East St. Louis teachers strike continues after another meeting

The East St. Louis teachers union and District 189 officials met again Thursday for more than four hours but failed to reach an agreement, so the strike will continue into Friday with students not in classes, as has been the case since the strike started Oct. 1

Sharon Crockett, president of teachers union Local 1220 said “The district had the union’s proposal for over 24 hours, but refused to respond today. The union team waited on the district’s team for four and a half hours today and nothing happened. Other than asking a few questions for a few minutes, they gave no indication if the proposal was something they would be interested in.”

Kelli Hawkins, spokesman for District 189 said, “We’re scheduled to meet again tomorrow at 1 p.m. We remain hopeful that we’ll come to an agreement that’s in the best interest of the teachers and the district. We are all working to get our students back in school.”

During the last three weeks, teachers union Local 1220 and District 189 negotiators have gone back and forth to the negotiating table. Neither side has come up with something that both sides agree they can live with. The two sides tried again Thursday to talk things out. But, again they came away with no deal. They will try it again at 1 p.m. Friday.

Dave Comerford, spokesman for union Local 1220 said “the district refuses to respond to the union’s proposal and the meetings have been unproductive.”

Hawkins said the district remains hopefully that the two sides will come to an agreement that both sides can live with.

“We want the children and teachers back in school as quickly as possible,” she said. The teachers got their October 31 check already, and they will get a four-day check Friday for November. Negotiations will start for union Local 382 when Local 1220 negotiations are complete.

Superintendent Arthur Culver said after negotiations with Local 382 are complete, the district will then decide on raises for administrators, who have been without raises for seven years.

The teachers still want to keep the 11-step schedule they’re on. Culver wants them to accept a 21-step schedule, which he says is two steps lower than what is in place in surrounding districts. And, he said he has to be mindful of the district’s finances so that it won’t return to the dire situation it was in when he came in. To give them what they are asking for is not financially responsible and the district can not maintain it long term, he says.

Union Local 1220 leaders believe the district can afford to pay the teacher’s what they want. They believe district officials “aren’t ready for this strike to end.” Culver said the children do need to be in school and he wants them there, but the district has to live within its means.