Mt. Olive teachers strike to last at least another week

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MT. OLIVE, IL (KTVI)-- A late night negotiating session to end a teachers strike in Mt. Olive, IL, stretched into Tuesday morning.  Both sides reported progress.

Still, there will be no school in Mt. Olive as of Tuesday night, for at least another week. 

Mt. Olive is in Macoupin County near Litchfield. 

There was a surprising road block to ending the strike.

In spite of the reported progress on the key issues of salary and retirement benefits, the earliest the school board and teachers union could agree to hold another bargaining session with a federal mediator was next Monday night.

So, as things stood Tuesday, the 2-day strike will extend by at least 4 more school days.

There was sadness among teachers handing out fliers to passing drivers on Main Street late Tuesday afternoon.

They’d rather have been at the boys varsity high school basketball game or junior high science fair that were postponed because of the strike Tuesday night. 

“It’s just very saddening we’re out here and we’re not at school.  We see the kids.  They’re giving us support.  They want to be there.  They really wish they were there for science fair,” said Julie Heyen, the junior high science teacher.

“At first everyone was excited that we would get off school.  Once you take a step back and see how upset all the teachers are and stuff, and see how unfair it is, it’s not as exciting,” said high school senior, Lindsay Eickmeyer.

“Could be in there right now, instead of sitting out here in the cold,” said senior and varsity basketball player Jake Niehaus, looking at the school gym across the street.

Teachers faced more lost pay with the holidays approaching.

“I know my family is prepared to stand by us no matter what happens,” said junior high teacher, Juli Caveny.

More than 100 parents and students cheered teachers as they headed into a more than 5 hour negotiation session with the school board and a federal mediator, Monday night.

Popular support remained with the teachers Tuesday night.

In a town that rallied back from a tornado strike in the spring, there was hope for a quick resolution, but also frustration over a seeming lack of urgency with 500 students out of school. 

“We’re coming back from (the tornado) still,” Heyen said.  “It’s fresh in our minds.  A lot of our students were affected by the tornado.  We have some that would no longer live in their homes because of it and were moved.”

“It rubs me wrong…you’re talking about the education of the kids.  Why they can’t just all sit down until somebody works out something, I don’t know.  It’s like why put it off a week?” quipped Mike Agers, a local business owner who supported the teachers, bringing them hot chocolate as they passed out fliers.

“We told them we would meet anytime, even during the day. We’re still willing.  If they’ll call an emergency meeting or anything, we’ll meet,” said teacher and teachers’ union president, Marcia Schulte.

Superintendent Patrick Murphy said the school board did offer to meet again Thursday.

Teachers offered to meet Wednesday or Friday. 

Monday was the best the two sides could do.

Teachers, students, and residents said that wasn’t good enough.

Mount Olive teachers strike continues after negotiations fail

Mt. Olive School Board holds meeting to try to end strike

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