Seven Teacher Strikes In Three States Affect 21,000 Students
Undated (AP) _ Seven teacher strikes in three states idled more than 21,000 pupils Thursday, the largest keeping 8,000 students at home in Champaign, Ill.
The walkouts in Michigan, Pennsylvania and Illinois were prompted by contract disputes involving salary, class size and other issues.
In Pennsylvania, 8,717 students are affected by strikes by 527 teachers in the Bethel Park and Spring Grove districts, said George Badner, spokesman for a state teachers’ union.
But teachers overwhelmingly approved an agreement Thursday in that state’s Keystone School District after a four-day walkout by 87 teachers that affected 1,458 students. The school board is scheduled to vote on the pact Sept. 8.
The 312 teachers in Bethel Park in suburban Pittsburgh had been set to begin work Thursday, but the 4,800 pupils were not scheduled to start school until Tuesday.
It is the first strike by Bethel Park teachers since 1979, when they were off the job for 44 days. A state mediator, who met with both sides Wednesday, said Thursday that no talks between the two sides were scheduled.
No negotiations were planned at the Spring Grove district, where the 215 teachers struck Wednesday.
The Keystone students had been scheduled to begin classes Wednesday, said Superintendent William Regester. Now, students will begin school Tuesday.
In Illinois, the 570 teachers and school officials in Champaign had scheduled a bargaining session Thursday.
Elsewhere in Illinois, a strike by 38 Okawville teachers seeking higher pay began Wednesday, idling 700 students. School officials said Thursday that no talks were planned.
Talks were scheduled for Monday night at the Berkeley School District in suburban Chicago, where a four-day strike by 111 teachers canceled classes for 1,850 pupils.
In Michigan, the 55 teachers at Harbor Beach picketed for a third day Thursday, idling 1,050 pupils.
Classes were canceled for the week in the Vassar, Mich., district in a dispute over when the school year starts. The 92 teachers in the 1,982-pupil district stayed off the job for the third day Thursday.
Mediators were talking with school and union officials in both Michigan district.
Mary Hatwood Futrell, president of the National Education Association, told reporters in Washington on Wednesday that there would probably be fewer strikes this year than last, according to a survey by her union. She said last year there were about 40.
She said the prediction was attributed to salary gains made by teachers over a decade and new sophistication among school boards, administrators and teachers in collective bargaining.