No end in strike

By M. Robert Berg

Although Labor Day has passed, summer vacation for students in the city of DeKalb continues indefinitely.

Teachers in DeKalb have been on strike since Aug. 25, when classes originally were slated to begin. The strike affects a total of 3,800 students from nine schools, including one high school, two middle schools and six elementary schools.

Jim Womack, co-president of the DeKalb Classroom Teacher’s Association, said offers were exchanged Sunday night. “We met last night with the Board of Education and the federal mediator, and there was an official exchange of proposals,” he said.

However, according to press releases from the Board of Education, a quick end to the strike does not appear likely. “The union’s bargaining team has indicated that it will not recommend the board’s settlement offer to its membership,” said Charles McCormick, chief spokesman of the Board of Education Bargaining Team. “The board has received no counter offer at this time.”

Negotiations appear to be going sour, with disagreements on both sides. “The board strongly believes that the union has engaged in bad faith bargaining,” McCormick stated in a press release Friday. “Therefore, the Board of Education has asked its attorney to draft an unfair labor practice charge against the teacher’s union.”

McCormick said there will be no further comment on the matter until the final draft of the charges is complete.

Also, the “gag rule” that both sides had been operating under, which means neither side can talk about details of the strike negotiations to the press, has been lifted by the teacher’s union, according to Womack. “In accordance with the federal mediator, we can lift the gag rule,” he said.

Practice for fall sports, which until now had been postponed until the end of the strike, might begin soon. District #428 football began practice on Saturday under the direction of district administrators, said Jack Barshinger, a spokesman for the Board of Education.

“Arrangements for other sports practices will be completed this weekend with an anticipated resumption of practices for Tuesday, Sept. 7,” he said.

Classes will not begin today, and maybe not any time this week, McCormick said. “Whether or not they will be open any time this week cannot be predicted,” he said.