Concordia teachers say possible strike still a month away

Published 12:00 am Thursday, November 23, 2000

VIDALIA, La. – The president of the Concordia Federation of Teachers and School Employees said Wednesday that any work action — whether strike or sickout — by that union’s members is at least one month away.

Such a work action would be in response to voters’ failure on Nov. 7 to pass a tax plan that would have yielded $200 million a year for education, with at least 80 percent going to teacher and school employee raises. But it would also be in response, educators have said, to several broken pay promises by state officials.

&uot;At this point, I don’t know what we’re going to do. I sent polls out to our members (after the plan failed), but I only have two schools’ responses back so far,&uot; CFT President Wilma McKeever said Wednesday. &uot;By the end of December, though, I should have slips back for all our members, and then I’ll know what steps our members want to take.&uot;

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Members’ options are to stage a strike or sickout, or to simply do nothing. McKeever would not give the results of poll slips already received, saying she will wait to release the results until all slips have been turned in.

The parish’s other teacher union, the larger Concordia Association of Educators, has also not yet said whether its members will stage a work action. D’Shay Rushing, CAE president, could not be reached for comment this week. Neither union will release the number of members it has.

Concordia Parish Superintendent Lester &uot;Pete&uot; Peterman said earlier this week that he has heard nothing about a planned work action — at least, not yet.

He acknowledged that a strike or sickout would have a big effect on that school district but said he doesn’t believe it would send a message to state leaders.

&uot;Depending on how many teachers called in sick, we might have to cancel school those days and rearrange the school calendar to make up for those days,&uot; Peterman said.

&uot;I don’t think that having a sickout in one parish will send a message to the state. It would only hurt a parish that’s trying to do something for its teachers and employees.&uot;

McKeever acknowledged that it would be more effective to have strikes and sickouts throughout the state rather than just in isolated parishes.

&uot;But teachers are fed up, and rightly so,&uot; she added. &uot;These state officials use teachers as a way to get into office, but then we don’t get anything in return.&uot;