Kewanee teachers, education support staff to hold informational picket ahead of mediation

KEWANEE, ILDozens of Kewanee teachers and education support staff, like bus drivers, classroom aides and secretaries, will hold an informational picket on the morning of Thurs., Aug. 10, ahead of contract negotiations with a federal mediator. Kewanee Education Association (KEA) members will be wearing red, marching and carrying picket signs at 9 a.m. Thursday morning. Federally mediated contract discussions between KEA and the Kewanee Community Unit School District 229 (CUSD 229) School Board are set to begin at 10 a.m.  

KEA has been bargaining a new contract with CUSD 229 officials since April and entered federal mediation at the beginning of this month. The current KEA contract expires on Aug. 15, which is just before students return for school on Aug. 17. 

“Illinois is in the middle of a massive education support staff and teacher shortage. We have to be competitive with our neighboring districts or we will continue to lose high-quality folks to other districts,” KEA Spokesperson Jennifer Vickrey said. “Over the last five years, the average teacher salary in Illinois went up by $11,000. But in the same time frame, KEA’s average teacher salary increased by less than half that. How are we supposed to bring in talented new educators and retain the quality experienced ones we have on staff when we are so far behind?” 

KEA represents more than 200 teachers, counselors, bus drivers, classroom aides, secretaries, cafeteria workers and tech employees serving the nearly 2,000 students in Kewanee CUSD 229.  

We are really hoping we can reach a deal before the start of the school year. We’d love for our students to be our sole focus,” Vickrey said. “We do all of this because we love our students. Most of us have been working in the district for years. Many of us live in Kewanee and have kids who go to school in the district. We want what’s best for our entire community.” 

KEA members will hold the informational picket at 9 a.m. Thurs., Aug. 10, at the CUSD 229 office (1001 N. Main St., Kewanee). The federal mediation begins at 10 a.m. at the same location.


At 135,000 members strong, the Illinois Education Association (IEA) is the largest union in Illinois. The IEA represents PreK-12 teachers outside the city of Chicago and education support staff, higher education faculty and support staff, retired education employees and students preparing to become teachers, statewide.

Media Contact

Bridget Shanahan
Media Relations Director