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Galesburg teachers vote to strike

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Teachers in Galesburg, Illinois, voted overwhelmingly in favor of a strike Thursday night.

Hundreds of members of the Galesburg Education Association met behind closed doors at Galesburg High School for nearly four hours on Thursday, July 31, 2014. GEA spokesperson Tami Qualls said the union members voted to send an intent-to-strike notice to the Illinois Educational Labor Relations Board.

“We felt like the [Board of Education] has not listened; they have not fairly negotiated and represented the taxpayers, our community, our students and our educators in not resolving this contract,” said Qualls.

There is still an opportunity, though, for a strike to be avoided. Both sides are scheduled to begin bargaining again on August 11.

“At 1 p.m. on August 12, if there is not a resolution and a contract to be ratified that we feel is worthy, then we will be striking on August 13th,” said Qualls.

The GEA and Board of Education have been negotiating since April of this year. Teachers are asking for a 1.5 percent pay increase, while the District says it is facing a $2.7 million budget deficit.

“We’re just in a tight spot right now,” said Bart Arthur, superintendent of Galesburg District 205. “Contract negotiations are already difficult in Illinois, especially now because turning levels from the state have been cut so severely, and the federal government is cutting back.”

Arthur says the Board’s most recent offer is fair, while teachers say salaries aren’t the only sticking point.

“The Board constantly continues to say it’s a money issue. It’s not just money,” said Qualls. “There are language issues and protections that cost zero money, and those are things we put in there because they are very important to us.”

Both sides, though, said they still hope to reach an agreement before a strike takes place.

“Nobody likes that. We are all people that wanna be in our classrooms. We feel strongly about what we do, we love what we do, and it’s discouraging to us,” said Qualls.


  • IL

    Greed really? No McDonalds workers asking for more money is greed. Teachers who put in countless hours with grading papers, helping students, prepping classrooms is NOT greed. Teachers are paid less than judges yet they are the foundation for our children’s future and a judge is just an a**hole who gets paid to determine another’s future based on what kind of mood they woke up in that day. For some kids the guidance of their teachers is all they have to get them through school. You sound like an idiot. I say they spent all that money for a football stadium and I’m not so sure the team is even good. Could of been spent elsewhere. I say the teachers SHOULD strike.

  • Bryan

    Il, you have got to be kidding! There is NO money in the state of Illinois! Teachers do not shape the childrens future, their PARENTS do. What is Galesburgs school rating? Are they a 8-10 out of 10? Until they reach that, the teachers deserve nothing. Besides, how long is their summer vacation?

  • Katie

    Bryan, you are nothing but a crank. Teachers are not paid for their summer “vacation”. IF they receive money during the summer, it is because they have allowed the district to hold it as an interest free loan during the school year and then reimburse them during the summer months (usually 10 weeks) thus receiving 12 equal monthly payments. Teachers are seasonal workers who experience layoffs for which they cannot claim unemployment during the summer. And “they deserve nothing” unless they are “8-10 out of 10”? Really? Please tell me who you think is going to work for free. One more thing: I thought you just said it was the parents who shape the children. So, if the kids aren’t doing well in school, then it’s… the teacher’s fault? smdh

    • Bryan

      Katie, ever see a Fireman, Police officer, EMT strike because of a 1 1/2% pay raise? If teachers are the “role models” you think they are, perhaps they should be held to the same standards! As for your name calling, SMDH

  • Ann Marie Finnen

    It’s a sad day when people are complaining about teachers getting a 1.5% raise. Yes, money is tight – but it’s always a matter of priorities. Don’t you want teaching to be viewed as a favorable career? I’m sure these few negative comments don’t reflect the true feelings of the majority of local citizens. My children’s teachers are dedicated, hard working, and incredibly skilled. They deserve much more than we can afford to pay them, and I would gladly sacrifice a few luxuries (or something else from a bloated budget) to give them a a 1.5% raise.

  • Kristine

    Being a para in the class room part time in the past , a pto mom and friends with many teachers in district 205…. you have no idea what it takes to be a teacher!
    Its a lifestyle not a pay check! They not only teach… they love, they encourage, they invest in the lives of these children and their families!
    They sacrifice time and their own money to make sure these kids succeed!
    This is not a profession that is about greed and money but about the love of teaching!
    I have seen countless teachers shed tears over their students, many more smiles and watched my own kids flourish under district 205 teaches guidance!!!
    We need to build them up and encourage our fabulous teachers!!
    Thank you for all you do!!

    • Bryan

      Yes. Its about the love of the kids. Says the teachers union who is now walking out on the children the shape and form and love. Greed.

  • Alan Berg

    Don’t want the work , consider “outsourcing” education. I am tired of privileged citizenry and their hypocritical ,over-inflated ,sense of importance, Rest of us learn to tighten the belt.

  • Alan Berg

    In the past 30 yrs , I have seen Farmers lose their land , factory workers lose their jobs ,and yet teachers and government workers think they are exempt from risks and misfortunes that the rest of us has suffered.

    • Bryan

      Alan, to add to that…Union Workers in general. Not all, but most. How much do those unions workers get when they strike? I bet they are still paying dues though.

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