West Chicago teachers strike over, class resumes

February 7, 2013 10:02:59 AM PST
The West Chicago District 33 teachers strike is over, and there was school again Thursday.

Mary Catherine Kosmach, union spokesperson, said an agreement was reached at 12:15 a.m. Thursday.

"A tentative agreement has been reached between ETAWC and the board of education. We are suspending the strike pending presentation of the tentative agreement to our members," Kosmach said.

Teachers will meet after school Thursday to review the tentative agreement.

The strike of 284 teachers lasted three days. More than 4,000 elementary and middle school students were affected. Some of the main sticking points between the teachers' union and district officials were salaries and health insurance premiums.

Parents were grinning from ear to ear as they dropped their kids at school.

"We are happy now because he goes back to school, so we are ready to go," said Art Huizar, parent.

"I thought it was going to be a month because they were with posters, like, 'Wow, they took it, like, to the next step, but yeah, I am happy that it's back," said Pedro Huizar, student.

The district's 284 teachers struck early monday morning after 16 months of bargaining fell apart mostly over wages and benefits. The details of the agreement are ot being disclosed right now but both sides are relieved it is over.

"We are very pleased. We have been working very hard with the teachers union over the past 16 months, and we have heard from parents and community members with support for the position of the board to be able to hold firm and be fiscally responsible," said Dr. Kathy Wolfe, West Chicago School District 33 superintendent.

A message on the district's website indicated that the agreement would be good for three years.

"The Teachers' Union is ending the strike and presenting the tentative agreement to its members later today," the message said. "West Chicago students will be back in the regular classrooms on Thursday morning. Parents will be notified via the District's established methods."

School officials have long said budgetary restrictions would force them to place a cap on how much it pays for health insurance.

The district oversees six elementary schools, a preschool and a middle school.

The Sun-Times Media Wire contributed to this report.