Harlem Teachers to Work Without Contract

By: Alice Barr
By: Alice Barr

Just before 10:00 Tuesday night, Harlem teachers voted down a tentative contract agreement reached Monday evening. However, there will be school Wednesday in Harlem. Teachers have agreed to work without a new contract until next Tuesday, September 4th.
In the meantime negotiations will continue. However, if teachers and the school board do not reach an agreement by next Wednesday, the strike is back on and school is off that Wednesday. Teachers say they hope it won't come to that because they want to be back in the classroom, that's why they agreed to work without the new contract. The vote was split. One teacher said it was about 260 to 240 against the tentative agreement.
Teachers received a major show of support from the community Tuesday night. More than 100 parents and kids, out of about 7,500 students in the district, turned out to tell teachers to vote against the new contract because they don't think it's fair.
Teachers say their salaries are lower than surrounding districts and that teachers hired after 2004 receive smaller yearly raises, than older ones who are paid based on a different scale.
Adding more to the tension, teachers voted unanimously Tuesday night, with more than 500 teachers present, to ask the school board to call for Superintendent Pat Deluca's resignation. Teachers say Deluca's "negative management style" has caused teachers to strike for the second time since 2004. There were no teacher strikes in the fifteen years before he was hired. They also say Deluca has lowered morale among employees and damaged community relations.
"The Harlem Federation of teachers expresses a vote of no confidence in Superintendent Deluca, and urges the board of education to call for his immediate resignation," Dave Comerford, the teachers' union representative from the Illinois Federation of Teachers, told a crowd of cheering parents and students outside Harlem High School Tuesday Night.
Teachers added part of their no confidence vote in Deluca stemmed from feeling pressure from the superintendent to sign a deal. They think he rushed announcing a tentative deal had been reached Monday night before negotiators had finished signing. Deluca said earlier Tuesday, he simply wanted to inform the public school was back on as soon as he had the accurate information and he meant no disrespect.
Comerford adds the parent support for teachers is unprecedented in his eleven years as a teachers' union negotiator. Harlem parent Connie Papini explains their motivation: "We just want to support the teachers, let them know, make the decision thats best for you, we don't want the 3 by 5. Not only just because they deserve competitive wages, but its best for our community, we do not need to have another strike in three years again."
School will be on a regular, full-day schedule for students grades one through 12. Preschoolers and kindergarteners at the Parker Center have a partial schedule and student orientation. A.M. students should come in from 9:05 A.M. to 10:05 A.M. While P.M. students should report from 12:45 P.M. to 1:45 P.M. No transportation will be provided. Parker kids' first full day schedule, with transportation provided, is Thursday.


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Comments are posted from viewers like you and do not always reflect the views of this station.
  • by Lori Location: Roscoe on Sep 1, 2007 at 03:45 PM
    I think the reason their is so much extra money is because of the outrageous fees the parents are required to pay to send their children to school.So much for free public education.
  • by carol Location: loves park on Aug 30, 2007 at 05:27 PM
    Beth, wake up!!! The teachers had to agree to the start of school without a contract. If not, the classrooms would have been empty!
  • by Beth Location: Loves Park on Aug 29, 2007 at 04:29 PM
    The school board needs to get rid of the two seperate pay scales. This is why Harlem schools are a "training ground" for new teachers who start at a lower pay to obtain a position and then transfer out to other districts for higher pay after obtaining the experience needed. Dr. Deluca should not have announced the start of school until the teachers had reviewed the contract.
  • by Carol Location: Machesney Park on Aug 29, 2007 at 04:22 PM
    How about Labor Day?? Isn't that a paid holiday??
  • by Rick Location: Loves Park on Aug 29, 2007 at 03:57 PM
    Carol I am with you. Both sides need to wake up. No one wins in a strike. Dr. DeLuca needs to find another school district to screw up. I can't believe they hired him in the first place. Every contemptuous issue that came up in the Rockford school district it seems Dr. DeLuca was at the center of it. The teachers need to realize they don't work for Dr. DeLuca or the school board. They work for the children of this district and we pay their salaries. Keep negotiating but stay in school. NO MORE STRIKES!!!!!
  • by victoria Location: machesney park on Aug 29, 2007 at 02:58 PM
    It's really stupid that they still haven't made a contract deal yet. I'm a freshman at Harlem High and I want to continue going to school. I think Mr. DeLuca has all the blame. I'm on the teacher's side and they should get a contract that is a good deal and soon!
  • by CAROL Location: BELVIDERE on Aug 29, 2007 at 01:55 PM
    WOULDN'T YOU GO BACK TO SCHOOL FOR THREE DAYS SO THAT YOUR INSURANCE IS PAID FOR THAT MONTH A SMART MOVE ON THE TEACHERS SIDE NO MUCH ON THE SCHOOL BOARD
  • by Terie Schunck Location: Loves Park on Aug 29, 2007 at 12:49 PM
    Those in the community that think the latest decision by the teachers to stay in school only because of insurance are gravely deceived. Their reason was for the PARENTS AND THE CHILDREN not to let them and the community down and to continue negotiations not just to walk out. The District had already sent them notice of termination of their coverage and they were still picketing. Residents of the District need to WAKE UP and GET THE FACTS! We need to be unified as a community, back our teachers and get rid of the orchestrated School Board and its Leader.
  • by ann on Aug 29, 2007 at 12:26 PM
    It's true that the school board should never have started classes without a signed contract. However, the teachers must have agreed to go back to work without the contract being signed. I'm sure that the board was under the impression that the contract would be ratified. All of this information makes the teachers and their union look really sneaky. If they had no plans to ratify the contract, what was the purpose in going back to class? Was it to get their insurance paid? Or was it to use the children as pawns. Now, they can make the school board look bad when schools are again closed. I really hope the board locks the doors on the schools tomorrow morning and keeps them locked until a contract is signed. I, too, think an arbitrator is needed. Do the teachers remember that an arbitrator is where they got that last lousey contract?
  • by Regina Location: Machesney Park on Aug 29, 2007 at 11:31 AM
    I understand the teachers point of view and I agree with them. If something is not done regarding the superintendent then as a community we should plan on a teachers strike every year when they are negotiating a contract. It seems very unfair the amount of money the superintendent makes compared to the teachers. What exactly does the superintendent do anyway? It is the teachers that are doing the most for our children.
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