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Our View: Settle dispute without strike

Published: Thursday, Feb. 20, 2014 5:30 a.m. CDT • Updated: Saturday, Feb. 22, 2014 6:15 p.m. CDT

Teacher contract negotiations in McHenry School District 156 ramped up this week after teachers voted unanimously to strike.

The teachers union presented the school board a contract offer Tuesday night. The school board planned to counter the offer Wednesday after a closed-session discussion.

Information regarding the negotiations has been limited. The two sides are debating numbers and contract language, disagreeing on “philosophical issues” as well as the raw numbers, union spokesman Brian Weidner said.

“Negotiations are ongoing and can be very delicate at this point,” Superintendent Mike Roberts said.

Regardless of where the two sides are at in negotiations, we urge District 156 teachers to not strike. If teachers don’t walk out, they will continue to earn the respect of students, parents and administrators.

We understand negotiations can be frustrating, particularly when they seem to drag on and be going nowhere. Striking, however, is not the way to go about trying to get your way. It sets a bad example for students and divides the community. Strikes also put school boards in situations where they are forced to make promises that taxpayers can’t afford so students get back into the classroom.

That’s why we support legislation that would prohibit teachers from striking. That certainly would even the playing field for taxpayers.

Teachers should be treated the same as firefighters and police officers, who are barred from striking under state law. Firefighters and police officers must solve their contract disputes through arbitration, not strikes. With the ability to strike, teachers have all the leverage. School officials have very little. And students and taxpayers are placed in bad situations.

We hope District 156 teachers and the school board reach a fair agreement for both sides and taxpayers that doesn’t include a strike.

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