Union mum on sickouts

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, February 20, 2001

AP and staff reports

Tuesday, February 20, 2001

VIDALIA, La. – One of Concordia Parish’s two teacher unions

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has finished polling its members to see how many want to stage

a sickout to protest low salaries for teachers.

But JoAnn Gardner, president of the Concordia Federation of

Teachers and School Employees, said Tuesday that she would have

to get approval from the Louisiana Federation of Teachers to release

the information.

She did say that LFT officials are still meeting with representatives

of the Louisiana Association of Educators to determine whether

the two unions will stage a joint sickout.

&uot;I will say that we had a very good response&uot; to

the poll of CFT’s 150 members, Gardner said.

D’Shay Rushing, president of the 170-member Concordia Association

of Educators, said results of a similar poll of that union’s members

could be available as early as next week.

Louisiana teachers’ salaries are currently $3,600 below the

Southern average. The Louisiana Legislature will hold a special

session starting March 11 to vote on gambling taxes that would

raise about $2,000 for pay raises.

Meanwhile, a teacher sickout forced Acadia Parish schools to

close Tuesday and teachers union officials in East Feliciana Parish

hinted they would stage a job action later this week.

The closing of Acadia schools came as one of the state’s main

educators unions announced that it would not stage sickouts during

Louisiana Education Assessment Program testing from March 12 to

16. Critics of such job actions have said sickouts could hurt

students’ performance on the tests. The Acadia School Board closed

the parish’s 26 schools, keeping 9,800 students out of the classroom.

Union officials said they are considering a job action in East

Feliciana this week. Also, a sickout may occur in Ascension Parish

at some point. The job actions are to protest low pay.

In announcing that no sickouts would occur during LEAP testing,

the LAE responded to concerns from Ascension Parish School Superintendent

Robert Clouatre and others that the job actions would hurt students’