SPRINGFIELD – Representatives of the state’s two largest teachers unions say their organizations will take any action necessary–including a strike– if districts do not reopen safely, in accordance with state and federal guidelines.
“We believe that some types of in-person instruction can be achieved with health and safety mitigation in any individual community, but absent a practical safety plan that includes a clear line of responsibility and enforcement, we call for the 2020-21 school year to begin with remote learning,” Illinois Education Association President Kathi Griffin and Illinois Federation of Teachers President Dan Montgomery said in a joint statement.
The union heads say if they find districts that are not doing everything to protect students and everyone who cares for them, “no avenue or action is off the table,” including appeals to the Illinois Educational Labor Relations Board and a strike.
“The entire weight of the IEA and the IFT will be used in whatever way is necessary to protect the students and the staff who educate them. If a return-to-learning plan is not safe, we will act. Our working conditions are our students’ learning conditions. Unions were founded on workplace safety. The COVID-19 pandemic brings us back to our roots. This is the power of belonging to a union – to be able to collectively stand to protect those who need it – employees, students and their families.”
The Illinois Education Association represents teachers in Rockford Public School District 205 while the Illinois Federation of Teachers is the Harlem District’s union.