Burlington Teachers to Walk Picket Lines

The city's teachers' union announced Wednesday evening it would go on strike starting Thursday

Burlington School Stirke

The teachers' union in Vermont's largest city has announced it will go on strike Thursday.

The Burlington Education Association said Wednesday evening, more than eight hours after negotiations began for the day with the city's school board, that the sides were unable to reach a compromise to avert a strike.

The primary sticking point, according to the union, has been working conditions, including how much class prep time educators have, and what strategies the district will employ to close the so-called achievement gap between students.

"The board continues to claim that it wants to work collaboratively with us to address the achievement gap, but their actions say otherwise," union president Fran Brock, a Burlington High School history teacher, said in a written announcement of Thursday's strike.

The union has roughly 400 members, according to the Vermont NEA.

It previously announced a plan to strike Wednesday, but following a request from Burlington Mayor Miro Weinberger and the involvement of an experienced mediator, the union agreed to delay the strike and return to the bargaining table.

In a statement late Wednesday, the Burlington School Board said it resolved disagreements over operational issues at the city's high school early in the bargaining session.

Subsequent demands from the union, however, could not met, the board said.

The board said in the statement that it offered teachers significant healthcare savings, a three-year contract, and an 8 percent salary increase, which is an average of more than $6,000 per teacher.

The board said the union rejected these offers, and announced that there will be no school in Burlington Thursday.

The union said it was very disappointed the board imposed terms of employment at the beginning of the month, following the expiration of the previous contract.

Those terms, the union said, included non-teaching duties on elementary school educators, which limited time spent with students.

Burlington's teachers will begin their strike Thursday morning.

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