MURPHYSBORO– Today, the Murphysboro Education Association (MEA) voted overwhelmingly to authorize a strike.
“We want to work with the board them. We want to end this. That’s why we continue to suggest creative, collaborative ideas, but the board remains unwilling to make any movement,” MEA Chief Negotiator Catlin Langellier said. “So now, we are sending a clear message to the board: We will do whatever it takes to fight for our students, our schools and our community. A strike is our last resort, but this vote protects our right to use our collective voice to advocate for our students.”
Today’s vote gives the MEA negotiations team the authority to call a strike. MEA notified the Illinois Educational Labor Relations Board (IELRB) of its intent to strike on Thurs., Sept. 19. The earliest that educators can strike is Tues., Oct. 1.
The strike-authorization vote comes after MEA and the District 186 Board of Education entered mediation. The two sides have been negotiating since March 2019. MEA’s current contract expired on Aug. 12, which means members are currently working without a contract. MEA includes 152 teachers, counselors, nurses and social workers in District 186. District 186 serves 2,047 students.
“We will continue to work with the board and come to an agreement that puts student first. We need to get ahead of the teacher shortage, and make sure we have quality staff on hand,” Langelleir said. “We are trying to find common ground with the board. However, that’s difficult when the board has repeatedly misrepresented its surplus and its access to state education funds, claiming they need to keep their surplus on hand in case the state suddenly stops providing the district with funding. That’s like preparing for a tornado when there isn’t even a cloud in the sky. Within the last three years, the state has given nearly $1 billion new dollars to K-12 education. Murphysboro is not near the bottom of the funding list either. We get more money than 179 other school districts, and because we are classified as a tier 1 district, we stand to get hundreds of thousands of additional dollars in the future.”
The next mediation session between MEA and the BOE started this evening at 5:30 p.m.
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.