The Galesburg community, as it always does, came out in droves today to celebrate and thank those involved in labor unions and the local labor movement. But at least some were there to celebrate the public, too.
Hundreds of members of the Galesburg Education Association joined in on the Galesburg Labor Day Parade this morning — just days after their two-weeks strike ended, they wanted to thank the public for all the support they received during the strike.
GEA spokesperson Tami Qualls tells WGIL issues remain and their work is not done.
“I’m just praying that everyone will do what’s right for the students,” Qualls said. “I know that those academic kids that take AP exams — which I have kids like that, my own children as well as students — that it’s just not right for [the District administration] to rob them of six days. It’s wrong, especially if the motivation is to punish the teachers.”
Qualls is referring to at least six days worth of pay teachers are being docked, along with the school days allegedly not being made up as a result of the strike. The union reportedly received a letter over the weekend from school board president Mike Panther saying even he would like to see those days put back on the calendar.
That could be discussed a week from tonight.
Retired teacher, administrator, and teachers union representative Stanford Shover was this year’s grand marshal. Shover tells WGIL he thinks the GEA brought up a very important issue the public should know more about now — Reductions in Force.
“When the people are RIF’d, the first ones back should not just be good teachers,” Shover said. “They all are good teachers, but I think sometimes they show discrimination against people who are too high on the salary schedule, let them off for saving money. That’s not a place to save money, when you’re dealing with the educational staff of any district.”
Shover says he respects the GEA”s resolve in fighting for what they think was right. He thinks the first strike in 1977 might have been rougher than this one, because it was the first time a teachers union had been dealt with.