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Striking Mom Reaches Settlement With Kids After 42 Days

August 31, 1988

KENOSHA, Wis. (AP) _ It took 42 days to settle their labor dispute, but Gretchen Schulte, Kenosha’s striking mom, has put down her picket signs and signed a negotiated contract with her children.

″It was 100 percent worth it,″ she said. ″I don’t even care about the publicity and criticism. Even that was worth it. All that matters is here in this house. And I think we’ve all learned something.″

″It’s great to be free,″ daughter Heidi said Tuesday, as she relished the lifting of her grounding restrictions.

Schulte went on strike July 18 to protest what she said was disrespect and disobedience by her four children, 14-year-old twins Eric and Julie; Heidi, 13; and Jerry, 8.

She hung picket signs and nixed such duties as cooking, cleaning, chauffering and laundering. A possible turning point came recently when she refused to pay for her children’s school clothes.

Final negotiations Sunday lasted from noon until 6:40 p.m. when the detailed contracts were signed.

″It was very emotional, traumatic,″ said Schulte, 42. ″There was a lot of crying and screaming.″

The family had to take a break when debate became too heated, but the talks resumed after Schulte’s husband, Theodore, cooked dinner and family members cooled off.

Even before the pact was signed, the children were outside celebrating.

″Before I finished writing my name, they were jumping around at the street corner, yelling, ’It’s over 3/8 It’s over 3/8‴ the mother said with a smile.

″Yesterday was the best day of my life and I plan to have another one today,″ Eric said Tuesday.

But in case anyone gets complacent, the contracts are taped on the walls as reminders.

Schulte no longer tells the children what needs to be done but simply has them review their contracts.

The handwritten documents contain specific instructions for practically every chore and privilege.

For example, the ″rec room″ contract states that parents will provide a recreation room, and all radios, newspaper delivery bags, shoes and jackets will be kept there.

It also calls for removal of all cans, bottles and wrappers from the room by 6 p.m. and specifies that failure to obey is punishable by loss of television privileges for one week.

The contracts, 11 of them in all, fill a notebook.

Schulte had no regrets about the strike and insisted she would have kept the children grounded and out of school if they had not shaped up.

″But I knew they would come around,″ she said. ″I knew I had the hammer.″

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