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Teachers’ Strikes: Settlements in New Jersey, Rhode Island

September 8, 1992

Undated (AP) _ Talks in Detroit to settle a walkout by 10,500 striking teachers ended in deadlock early today, while 20,000 teachers in Philadelphia reached an agreement just before their contract expired.

Striking teachers reached a settlement today with a school district in Cherry Hill, N.J.

But in East St. Louis, Ill., public school teachers struck today after a 10-hour negotiating session over pay and other issues broke down, halting classes for more than 14,000 students two weeks after they began. No further talks were scheduled.

Court-ordered talks between the Detroit Board of Education and striking teachers ended at 1 a.m. No further negotiations were scheduled. A mediator ordered an independent review of both sides’ bargaining position.

Superintendent Deborah McGriff said she hoped the teachers would return to work, saying the review could take up to 1 1/2 months. John Elliott, president of the Detroit Federation of Teachers, said it was unlikely teachers would return.

If the union resists, McGriff said she would ask district lawyers to seek a back-to-work order. The judge who ordered both sides to negotiate through the Labor Day weekend rejected a similar request last week.

The strike began Aug. 31, extending summer vacation for 168,000 students.

The Detroit teachers’ union has asked for an 8 percent raise. The district offered no raise, but a 3 percent bonus for attending staff development workshops.

In Philadelphia, teachers agreed Monday night on a two-year contract that gives them no pay increases until January 1994, when they get a 3 percent raise.

Members of the Philadelphia Federation of Teachers who had gathered at the Civic Center for a possible strike authorization approved the contract by a voice vote. The agreement was announced at 11:30 p.m., half an hour before the teachers’ current contract expired.

The new pact preserves health, welfare and worker compensation benefits at the levels of the old contract, union president Ted Kirsch said.

″I think that we did well considering we didn’t have to strike to get it,″ said Jessie Knox, an elementary school teacher.

Friday is the first scheduled day of classes for most of Philadelphia’s nearly 200,000 students. Teachers were due back in school today.

In Rhode Island, teachers ratified a new contract that averted a strike in Narragansett. Classes for the coastal town’s 1,900 students and 174 teachers begin Wednesday. Last-ditch efforts to settle strikes by more than 1,000 teachers in Warwick and East Greenwich broke off early today.

In Cherry Hill, N.J., teachers approved a three-year contract hammered out in talks that ended early today. Classes were to begin Wednesday. The week-old strike has idled 10,000 students.

The agreement calls for an average salary increase of $8,900 over three years, said New Jersey Education Association spokeswoman Lynn Maher.

In Illinois, about 150 teachers remained on strike in Harrisburg for the third week, idling 2,300 students. A two-week-long strike affecting 1,700 students in Rochester, Ill., was settled Monday.

Strikes continued in Grand Haven, Inkster and Rockford, Mich., idling about 720 teachers and 14,400 students. In Clarkston, Mich., classes were to begin today for 5,574 students after a week-old strike was ended Saturday.

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