Proviso Teachers Union authorizes strike if agreement with District 209 is not reached soon

Members of the Proviso Teachers Union (PTU), a council of the West Suburban Teachers Union, voted Monday to authorize a strike if a fair agreement is not reached with the District 209 administration soon.

The union, made up of nearly 300 members, will file an intent-to-strike notice with the Illinois Educational Labor Relations Board on Tuesday, Feb. 1.

The district's teachers, social workers, school counselors and librarians could strike as soon as Feb. 18, the union said.

"Our members don’t take this step lightly," said PTU President Maggie Riley, a teacher at Proviso West High School. "No one wants to strike, but the administration’s lack of seriousness about reaching an agreement has been clear for nearly a year."

The union said members voted overwhelmingly — 98% — to authorize a strike.

"Superintendent James Henderson has continually derailed the process with a lack of honesty and transparency and an arbitrary unwillingness to bargain more than two hours at a time. He and the Board have given us no choice but to act," she said.

Union members are seeking an agreement that will attract and retain education professionals in order to ensure their predominantly Black and Brown students receive high-quality education, PTU said.

According to PTU, District 209 currently has the lowest teacher retention rate in the area at 82-percent. The district also has among the lowest salaries.


"High educator turnover limits the formation of lasting relationships with students and parents that improve learning and build a strong school community," Riley said. "To create the supportive, consistent learning environment students deserve, we need a competitive agreement that attracts great educators – and keeps them here."

PTU members also want the administration to balance and reduce class sizes at each high school. Those high schools include East, West and Math and Science Academy.

"Our union stands ready and willing to negotiate until we can reach an agreement that benefits students and our district," said Riley. "We hope Superintendent Henderson and the Board will finally take their responsibility seriously and do the right thing. If not, we’re unified and ready to strike."

The next bargaining session is scheduled for Feb. 9.