Teachers go on strike at two separate Illinois school districts

EAST ST. LOUIS (AP) — Teachers in two separate Illinois communities have gone on strike today. Teachers in East St. Louis have gone on strike amid a contract stalemate with school district officials.

Teachers were on picket lines Thursday morning, the first day of the strike. About 400 teachers and staff are on strike and more than 6,000 students are out of school.

Sharon Crockett is president of Union Local 1220. She says union members voted down a tentative agreement from the district on Tuesday evening. East St. Louis District 189 Superintendent Arthur Culver called that agreement fair and equitable.Teacher pay raises are a major issue in negotiations.

Teachers in the Chicago suburb of McHenry have also gone on strike after disagreeing with their district officials about compensation and insurance benefits.

McHenry High School District 156 said in a message on its website that schools were closed because teachers went on strike Thursday morning. That means extracurricular, athletic and other activities at the school’s two campuses also are canceled. About 2,600 students are affected.

Talks between the district and teachers’ union ended early Thursday. Negotiations started in March and the 160 teachers have been working without a contract since its expired in June.

McHenry Community High School Teachers Association officials say they’re ready to negotiate and resolve differences “as soon as possible.”

The school board said it is hopeful for a “mutually beneficial contract.”