Greencastle-Antrim educators voted overwhelmingly today to authorize a strike if the negotiating team deems it necessary.
The strike authorization was backed by 90 percent of voters, meaning that the bargaining team will be able to call a strike at any time, as long as it provides the district with the legally mandated 48-hour notice.
“We will continue to negotiate in good faith,” said Brandon Solomon, a high-school English teacher and president of Greencastle-Antrim Education Association (GAEA), “because a strike is the last thing anybody wants. But our teachers have spoken loud and clear that we are ready to strike if it becomes necessary.”
Contract expires Aug. 31
With the existing contract set to expire Aug. 31, the district has refused to commit to any issues within the proposed contract.
“School board members have committed to absolutely nothing. Zero,” Solomon said. “After bargaining for almost an entire year, these stonewalling tactics means we are still at square one. Quite frankly, they are insulting the teachers and educators who have worked so hard to support their students and community throughout the pandemic.”
To mark the first day that they will be working under the terms of their expired contract, teachers and educators will be at the school board’s first meeting of the new school year on Sept. 1. They will be standing in solidarity outside the Antrim Township building from 5:30-6.
A coffee talk will follow at 7 p.m. at the Life Center. The public is invited to attend. Since the school board has already released its contract proposal, teachers will be informing the public about their issues related to bargaining a fair contract.
In 2021, due to the pandemic and the district’s fear of potential financial instability, the district asked teachers and educators to take a salary freeze. Teachers agreed to the freeze, even as they continued to be in the classroom every day. Because of the freeze and lower salary increases in the previous contract, starting salaries – which were once the highest in Franklin County – are now third.
With a national teacher shortage at a crisis, Greencastle-Antrim board members need to invest in its educators if they are to be able to attract and retain quality teachers.
“We need the school board to start working with us to reach a contract that reflects the health and financial sacrifices that we’ve made throughout the pandemic,” said Susie Kline, GAEA president-elect.
The district and EA have three more bargaining dates scheduled for Aug. 29, Sept. 13 and Sept. 29.