A Short History of Galesbug Teacher Strikes

A local historian says if Galesburg teachers end up on strike when negotiations between the district and the teachers union end tomorrow, it will – for the most part – make history.

Tom Wilson says there’s only been one other strike of teachers in history in Galesburg, and it was in 1977. At the time, teachers representing both the Galesburg Education Association and the Galesburg Federation of Teachers walked off the job for four days immediately following a snowstorm in early January.

Wilson tells WGIL while the teacher’s unions and the district were at odds much like today at a time when he says the district was in financial trouble, there was one big difference.

“They brought in a fact finder, and the fact finder was to find the truth about the finances and instead of people maybe guessing or one side saying it’s this way, or another side saying it’s that way, once he found the actual facts of the situation, the teachers agreed to what he came up with, but the board didn’t,” says Wilson.

And Wilson says that’s what led to the strike.

Much like today, Wilson says students got involved in the strike, siding with teachers, much to the disappointment of district administrators.

Wilson says the Galesburg Federation of Teachers, which had a significantly smaller membership than the GEA at the time, eventually dissolved.

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