By Ashleigh Costello
BARRINGTON, Ill. – The Barrington Education Association is urging teachers and community members to wear black in a visual display of solidarity, as contract negotiations continue to falter.
blackshirtThe BEA, which represents the district’s nearly 700 teachers, declared an impasse in the mediated negotiations last week, reports the Daily Herald.
The teachers union and the Barrington District 220 school board have been negotiating since March toward a new contract.  The last contract expired at the end of August 2012.
The two sides have reportedly been unable to agree on several points including compensation and working conditions.
If no agreement is reached, teachers could legally strike as early as Feb. 21, according to the news site.
The union asked teachers to show their support by wearing black on negotiating days. Wearing black symbolizes the district is “in the black,” or financially sound, according to the BEA website.
In other words, the union believes the district should use its additional revenue to increase teacher salaries.
So much for setting up a rainy day fund – which the district might need to survive Illinois’ severe financial problems.
The state of Illinois is facing a huge pension shortage for its public workers (including teachers), and could realistically cut K-12 aid in order to stay solvent. Barrington school leaders are wise to keep spending under control until state lawmakers provide some sense of financial stability. 
But the teachers union is unconcerned by the gathering storm clouds; union members just want pay their raises, regardless of the cost. That’s why they are engaging in this silly “blackout” display.
The Illinois Educational Labor Relations Board is scheduled to post both sides last and final offers on Feb. 7.
The last time Barrington teachers went on strike was in 1980.

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