Chicago Teachers Will Strike Today

Times Staff Writer

A cash-starved Chicago Board of Education and an unyielding Chicago Teachers Union deadlocked in contract negotiations Monday night and teachers were told to strike the nation’s third-largest school district today for the ninth time in 18 years.

Elsewhere, 20 teacher walkouts in four other states affected about 260,000 students.

The Chicago Board of Education failed to settle with any of the 21 unions that represent 42,300 school employees, including 29,000 teachers, before the midnight strike deadline.

‘Strike Is On’

“The members are to report to their picket lines at 6 a.m. Tuesday morning,” Jacqueline Vaughn, president of the Chicago Teachers Union, said. “The strike is on.”


Frank W. Gardner, president of the Chicago school board, said the union’s salary demands were “not even worth contemplating.”

Union spokesman Chuck Burdeen said no new bargaining sessions had been scheduled for today but that talks would continue.

Teachers had been scheduled to report to work today and classes for the 435,000 Chicago students were to start Wednesday.

“I am tired of raping the system to satisfy the desires of employees,” the board’s finance chairman, Clark Burrus, was quoted as saying during a break in negotiations. “A well-paid work force is secondary to quality education.”

Teachers are asking for a 10% pay increase in the first year and a 5% increase in the second year of a two-year contract. The Board of Education is proposing a 1.7% wage cut by trimming three days from the school year early next year because state aid to the system has been cut.

Vaughn called the school board’s position “unrealistic.”

Beginning teachers earn $17,651, and top pay for teachers with 15 years of experience and a doctorate is $32,011 for a 39-week school year. Chicago ranks eighth among the 14 major urban areas for pay to teachers with master’s degrees.


The Board of Education estimates that it would need at least $100 million in new money this year and another $50 million next year to fund the teachers’ demands. It contends that it cannot even consider restoring the three school days it is trimming without help from the Legislature.

The Legislature is not scheduled to meet until early next month, when it will consider Gov. James R. Thompson’s veto of $113 million in state aid to education, which trimmed more than $40 million from the Chicago schools’ budget.

Chicago schools, chronically short of money and taxing property owners at the legal maximum, serve a population most in need of public education. A recent survey showed that 85% of the schools’ students are black or Latino and that most are poor.

A private citizens group found that 43% of all incoming high school freshmen can be expected to drop out before graduation. For years, Chicago students have scored below national norms on a variety of tests measuring everything from reading to mathematics skills.

Time Lost to Strikes

The Chicago Tribune calculated that an incoming Chicago high school senior has lost 49 days of school--virtually 10 full weeks--since entering kindergarten because of teachers’ strikes.

The schools’ top three officials told the Tribune’s editorial board late last week that they were prepared to accept a strike and suggested that it could be lengthy.


“It could be a very long and damaging strike,” school board President Gardner told the Tribune editors. The longest strike ended in October, 1983, after schools were closed for 16 days.

Teachers in Detroit have been on strike for a week, idling 180,000 students. Seven other Michigan school districts are also closed by labor disputes, affecting another 25,000 students.

Teachers are on strike in eight Pennsylvania school districts with 20,580 students. No progress was reported toward ending strikes in two Ohio districts with 6,000 students, or in two districts in Washington state with 29,500 students.