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Teacher strikes ‘not off the table,’ Illinois unions say

SPRINGFIELD (WREX) — Two of the largest unions representing hundreds of thousands of Illinois teachers, faculty and support staff said a health and safety strike is possible if schools do not take steps to keep students and staff safe.

The Illinois Education Association and the Illinois Federation of Teachers released a joint statement Wednesday calling for remote learning for the start of the school year if a back-to-school plan does not include safety measures at schools.

The IEA and IFT said if a school, college or university plans to bring students and teachers back without a safety plan, the unions will act.

"No avenue or action is off the table – the courts, the Illinois Educational Labor Relations Board - nothing, including health and safety strikes," the unions said. "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."

The IEA and IFT represent 238,000 teachers and staff in public and private schools, colleges and universities in Illinois, serving 2.5 million Illinois students.

"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," said part of the joint statement. "We especially need to protect those students who live in communities where health care is lacking, non-existent or unaffordable. We are in this together and we are in this to keep everyone healthy, safe and learning."

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