Waukegan teachers decided to go on strike in the beginning of October. The teachers union asked for a 9 % pay raise, and in return the District offered 1.6%. The teachers were seen outside right away with picket signs in hand stating, "I Deserve A Fair Contract", meaning that what they have now is unfair. And with unfairness there must be some struggling.
I talked to Trevor Lenhart, one of the picketing teachers, on October 20. He said that the board members won't even come to the table (a lawyer represents them instead) and that the teachers are working on last year's contract. Sounds like some struggling to me. Teachers do deserve a fair contract! Look, if the teachers are getting treated unfairly with low wages, then I say that we need to pay them more. But is that the case?
Come to find out, Trevor made $33,000 in 2012. That's not a lot but it's not bad either, especially for working about 180 days out of the year with full benefits! I make less than that for a full year with no benefits! (I thank God that my older daughters help out financially!) What about other teachers? According to the Waukegan School District's website, the 2014 base salary for a beginning teacher starts at $35,280 to $49,542. The average pay is over $50,000 with some teachers making over $100,000... with full benefits!
Superintendent Donaldo Batiste stated that both sides were at a standstill. He said, "The union’s salary request over the next two years is high. The board’s offer is competitive with the salaries of teachers in comparable districts." That's easy for him to say... he's making $245,000! Does he deserve a pay increase too?!
So which side is struggling? How about neither! The main ones that are struggling are the students... about 17,000 students! Secondly, would be their parents with all that they've had to endure. What about the third group? Can you guess? It's the taxpayers!
Who pays for any wage increases? Taxpayers! The proposal that the teachers originally presented would cost taxpayers in Waukegan over 10 million dollars! Even the board's proposal would cost taxpayers $2 million. They probably will settle for $5 million or so! Then the strike will finally be over and all sides will be done struggling... except for taxpayers! Here in Zion-Benton land we are hit hard in property taxes with no relief in sight. HELP!