Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Strike Ends: East St. Louis Teachers, District Ratify Contract

Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Strike Ends: East St. Louis Teachers, District Ratify Contract

Article excerpt

* Average salary increase of $12,834 over four years.

* A 19-step salary schedule for teachers, up from 11 steps.

* District-paid medical, dental, vision and life insurance plans.

School will resume Monday in East St. Louis after teachers and district leaders approved a four-year contract to end a strike that lasted nearly a month.

The strike, which began Oct. 1, had kept 6,000 students out of class. School Superintendent Arthur Culver said the district would make up the 21 lost school days, partly by going later into June but also by shortening holiday breaks.

The new contract increases to 19 from 11 the number of years a teacher must work to reach top pay. School officials had wanted to make it 21 years, but the 400-member union resisted and called the strike. The number of salary steps had been the main source of the dispute.

A fifth-year teacher, for example, now will have to work 14 more years to reach top scale, rather than six. The annual steps include raises.

"This is much better for the long term and gives us viability," Culver said. "It really reduces our financial burden. Now we can be about the job of educating our kids."

Dave Comerford of the Illinois Federation of Teachers said the vote by members of Local 1220 "was much more than a simple majority. The unanimous sentiment is the teachers are looking forward to getting back to their classrooms and their students," he said.

The union bargaining committee recommended approval, which the teachers provided after a two-hour meeting. Comerford declined to release the vote count. The union asked members who supported the deal to stand. Opponents remained seated.

Afterward, the East St. Louis School Board and the state- appointed Financial Oversight Panel both voted unanimously to approve the contract after a 40-minute closed meeting.

Culver said teachers in at least their second year on the job would get immediate $3,000 bonuses, and all teachers also will get $1,500 on Dec. …

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