Grade-ins help Teachers’ Association members express themselves

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Grade-ins help Teachers’ Association members express themselves

Teachers grade and converse during their grade-in on Wednesday at the district office in West Chicago.

Teachers grade and converse during their grade-in on Wednesday at the district office in West Chicago.

Photo by Ariana Alcantar

Teachers grade and converse during their grade-in on Wednesday at the district office in West Chicago.

Photo by Ariana Alcantar

Photo by Ariana Alcantar

Teachers grade and converse during their grade-in on Wednesday at the district office in West Chicago.

By Mayeli Vivaldo, Editor in chief

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Sit-ins are forms of protests, and in the case of the West Chicago Teachers’ Association, they are ways to express the concerns and wishes of many Association members.

For nearly two years, the Board of Education and the Teachers’ Association have been negotiating a contract. During this time, teachers have been working without a new contract.

The Association agreed to an extension which expired Aug. 13.

“We’re coming up on 22 months without a contract. Negotiations have not been going well and we want to get a new contract settled and in place,” president of the Teachers’ Association Brad Larson said. “I think everyone is ready to be finished with this process and have a settlement. Members are both concerned and frustrated that this process has gone as long as it has.”

In order to communicate those feelings, wishes, and thoughts, the Teachers’ Association has conducted two grade-ins at the district office while a bargaining session between the Board of Education and the Teachers’ Association bargaining team took place inside.

A grade-in is a sit-in while teachers grade papers.

“The Board of Education needs to know that we are committed and unified in reaching an agreement that will satisfy the association’s goals,” Larson said.

At the first grade-in on Dec. 13, 24 teachers participated and according to Larson, “We very clearly demonstrated our commitment to the goals we have set and that the bargaining team has the full support of the Association. Hopefully, the members of the Board of Education took note of that fact.”

The most recent grade-in was Wednesday from 4:45 to 7:15 p.m.

“(We were there) to support our bargaining team and to make clear to the Board of Education our resolve in bringing the negotiations to a satisfactory close,” Larson said.

The Teachers’ Association plans on organizing future grade-ins if needed.

If negotiations continue to show no results, “the Association will have to consider what its options are for continuing to address this situation,” Larson said.