Red for Ed movement supported by LHS teachers


Carly Wagner

Ms. Dana Brady, the building representative of the teacher’s union (and second from the right), poses with fellow teachers in their red shirts.

At Libertyville High School and other schools around the county and country, teachers unions are taking part in the national Red for Ed movement, which advocates for better pay for teachers and more resources for students, among other specific needs relating to each individual school contract.

The Red for Ed movement started last year in West Virginia, Oklahoma, Arizona, Kentucky and North Carolina and has since spread nationwide, including in Illinois.According to the national redfored movement website, The main goal of the movement is to raise educators’ voices together to benefit students, schools and teachers alike.

While the District 128 teachers’ union is not directly tied to the national movement, the teachers still show their support for fellow educators around the country by periodically wearing Red for Ed shirts, which were created last fall.

“The idea [is] that I wear my red shirt to support even those people who don’t know me just as a gesture that we are all fighting for the same things to help students,” explained Ms. Dana Brady, AP biology teacher and building representative.  

Ms. Brady further explained that since the shirts have been worn, it has brought more awareness and attention to the existence of the union and created a positive conversation between students and teachers about what the union does.

Prior to the 1980s, teachers in Illinois were not allowed to unionize as public employees. Once the  Illinois Educational Labor Relations Act was passed in 1984, teachers were allowed to unionize, and educators at LHS formed a union shortly after that and have had one ever since. The first teacher union at LHS was started in 1986.

“The reason that unions and teachers come together is because there is strength in numbers and solidarity,” said Mr. Dennis Duffy, the union president, illustrating that prior to unionization, educators were often paid individually by the principal based on likability.

The district’s teachers came out of a five-year contract at the end of the 2017-18 school year and negotiated with the Board of Education for a one-year deal for this school year; that contract expires on June 30. The union right now is looking to make a multi-year deal for future school years.

There are around 280 district teachers in the union and two teachers who are not members. Last year, there was a Supreme Court decision that stated that any worker who did not want to pay union fees could not be forced to do so. The teachers who chose to leave the union are still represented by the union and get paid by the union contract, however, they do not have to pay dues into the union.

“[To not be part of the union is the two teachers’] right and if they were to need any assistance, we certainly have a duty to free representation towards them and we’ll represent them,” Mr. Duffy said.  

The union is made up of different groups and committees that meet throughout the year in between the bimonthly full-member meetings where all 280 members meet together. The negotiations committee meets with the Board of Education every couple of weeks. These two groups go back and forth discussing potential contract topics, which cannot be revealed due to confidentiality, Mr. Duffy said, until a decision that both sides are satisfied with is agreed upon.

While teachers in Lake County at Warren Township High School and District 211 have gone on strike recently, Mr. Duffy is confident that Libertyville High School will not need to strike, nor is it possible under the current contract. It is state law that every contract has a no-strike clause in the document, meaning that all teachers agree not to walk off the job during the time that the contract is running.

“I’m confident we’ll strike a deal because we have all the pieces in place to do so and now it’s just a question of whether or not the two sides can broker a deal. [It] might take a while, but we can do it,” Mr. Duffy expressed.