Butte school administrators have been picketing at closed public schools since 6 a.m. Wednesday after contract negotiation hit a brick wall Tuesday afternoon and a strike was called.

Teamster's Union 2 spokesman and East Middle School assistant principal Keith Miller was manning his post outside the school that morning and waving at the occasional passing motorist honking a horn in support. Miller said he'd rather be working than carrying a picket sign.

"Strikes are tough; tough on everybody, tough on us. It's a last resort," Miller said.

Butte School District 1 and the union, which represented the 15 principals, assistant principals and directors at a last-chance meeting Tuesday evening, failed to reach a deal which would have allowed schools to continue to operate.

The disagreement is about a 1 percent difference in the size of a salary increase for the administrators.

Miller said he hasn't heard from any officials with the Butte School Districtas of Wednesday morning, and doesn't know how long the strike will last. He said he wants to come to an agreement sooner than later.

"We want to negotiate, we want to talk, we certainly don't want to be out here," Miller said.

This strike could have been avoided, according to Miller, adding that the union first brought up their proposal back in March. He says this issue should have been resolved by April or May.

Miller said he has heard from some parents who are upset and inconvienced by the strike. He says he sympathizes with them and wants to get back to educating students.

"You don't go into education for money, you go in because you care about kids," he said.

There also were four picketers outside Butte High School that morning. They declined to comment on the strike deferring all questions to Miller.

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