MURPHYSBORO – The Murphysboro Education Association (MEA) voted overwhelming on Tuesday evening to authorize a strike. The earliest MEA would go on strike would be Monday, October 1.
The strike authorization vote by MEA comes after a lack of progress in negotiation sessions with Murphysboro Community Unit School District 186 Board of Education (D186 BOE), including in the last session on August 16 with a federal mediator.
“A strike is the last thing our members want, and we continue to do everything we can to avoid that possibility,” MEA Vice President Melinda Pierson said. “We’ve done the math. We know the district has the money to meet our requests for a fair contract without raising taxes. However, the board continues to use delay tactics during negotiations at the expense of our students, our teachers and our community”
MEA is a group of 148 teachers in Murphysboro Community Unit School District 186 and is responsible for the education of 2175 students. They have been working without a contract since the beginning of the school year. Negotiations with the board started in March of 2018.
“Over the last decade, our needs as teachers have taken a backseat to financial issues within the school district and the state. We’ve taken multiple salary freezes over the last 10 years. It’s time for the district to make things right,” Pierson said. “We’ve worked hard to get the district additional funding. We’ve made phone calls, knocked on doors and lobbied our lawmakers to make sure our district got increased funding. We fought for our district and now it’s time for our district to support us and our students.”
MEA members will use the opportunity of this Friday’s Children’s Pet and Hobby Parade, an Apple Festival tradition that the MEA has long sponsored, to reach out to the public for support during the remainder of the negotiation process. The parade begins at 4:00 p.m. on Walnut Street. Teachers will encourage members of the community to reach out to board members and to attend the D186 BOE meeting on Sept. 25 at 6:30 p.m. The next negotiating session is set for Sept. 26 at 4:30 p.m. Both meetings will be held at the Murphysboro School District Office (593 Ava Rd., Murphysboro).
The 135,000 member Illinois Education Association (IEA-NEA) is the state’s largest education employee’s organization. IEA represents preK-12 teachers outside of the city of Chicago and education support staff, higher education faculty, retired education employees and students preparing to become teachers, statewide.