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Anderson teachers absent, schools close amid contract clash

November 3, 2021 GMT

ANDERSON, Ind. (AP) — A central Indiana school district cancelled all classes Wednesday as officials said about 20% of its teachers called off work amid contentious contract negotiations.

The decision by the Anderson Community Schools followed the district closing schools and holding an e-learning day for its 6,500 students Friday after similar widespread teacher call-offs.

Teacher strikes are illegal in Indiana and the school district issued a statement Wednesday that said teachers were “engaging in an illegal concerted job action.”

Anderson Teachers Federation President Randy Harrison said teachers made their own decisions about calling off work and that it wasn’t organized by the union.

The union has said that insurance premium increases ranging from $53 to $177 a month would mean less take-home pay for teachers even with district’s proposed salary increases. School district officials disagree with that contention.

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“We are disappointed that these teachers are choosing to do this as it hurts our parents and students,” district Superintendent Joe Cronk said. “We are appreciative of the vast majority of staff that have continued coming to work as we continue the bargaining process.”

The district said it planned to reopen schools in the city about 30 miles (48 kilometers) northeast of Indianapolis on Thursday, when union and district negotiators are scheduled to meet with a state-appointed mediator.