MURPHYSBORO– The Murphysboro Education Association (MEA) set a strike date for Thurs., Oct. 3. Currently, there are no negotiation sessions set between the MEA and the Murphysboro School District 186 Board of Education (BOE). MEA is currently waiting for the BOE to provide its availability.
“We know parents will need as much time as possible to make arrangements for their children if we do go on strike. That’s why we wanted to announce our plans today,” MEA Spokeswoman Lisa Shields said. “We are still hopeful that a strike can be avoided altogether. The last thing any of us want is to be out of our classrooms and on the picket line. That said, we are willing to fight for our students, our schools and our community.”
Today, the MEA membership voted overwhelming to reject the district’s last best offer. MEA has already filed its intent to strike notice with the IELRB, and could legally go on strike as soon as tomorrow, Oct. 1. MEA overwhelmingly voted to authorize a strike on Sept. 26.
“We will continue to work with the board in the hopes of coming to an agreement that puts students first,” Shields said. “We are trying to find common ground with the board, but this has been difficult. Bottom line: the board is misrepresenting its surplus and District 186’s access to state education funds, claiming the additional surplus needs to be squirreled away in the unlikely instance that the state suddenly stops providing the district with funding. It’s an absurd assertion, especially when you know that during the past three years, our lawmakers have provided nearly $1 billion in new money to K-12 education. We cannot continue to allow these baseless scare tactics to determine what is best for our students.”
MEA and the BOE 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.
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.