Several hundred Burlington teachers raised the volume of their labor dispute with the city school board Tuesday afternoon by staging a rush-hour picket complete with bongo drummers on U.S. 2 near the entrance to Interstate 89.
As drivers honked noisily in support, teachers on both sides of the busy road waved signs reading "Return to the Table." They chanted: "Hey ho, hey ho, imposition has got to go," referring to the employment policy the city school board imposed on them recently.
Burlington Education Association president Fran Brock thanked teachers for rallying together and chastised the imposition of employment terms.
"Basically it's an evil sort of thing to do," she told the crowd of teachers as they wrapped up the picket shortly after 5 p.m. "They are trying to bust the union and we're not going to let them do it!" Teachers cheered.
The two sides have been negotiating for months without success. School board leaders have said their offer of a 2.75 percent raise is all that city taxpayers can afford.
Teachers have at least three more pickets planned, including early Wednesday at city schools before classes start.
Asked if teachers will strike, Brock, a Burlington High School history teacher, said they would not rush into anything, but indicated it's under discussion. "We have to look at all of our options," she said.
But, Brock added, her hope is that the board will return to the table.