Saturday, December 23, 2017

Several districts settle contract disputes

Although final contract settlements have been reported in Quincy, Plainfield, and Ashland, one work stoppage was seen recently, along with continuing negotiations across the state. The most recent labor developments have included:

The Quincy School Board and the Quincy Federation of Teachers and Educational Support Personnel reached an agreement Nov. 26 on a new contract, avoiding a strike by more than 400 teachers. Negotiators worked out a four-year deal, since ratified, to run through the 2020-21 school year.

The Rockford teachers union and the school board in Rockford SD 205 continued to negotiate after a contract offer was rejected on Oct. 22 by the 1,741 members of the Rockford Education Association.

But Plainfield CCSD 202 and its local teachers’ organization recently finalized a new labor agreement. After a year of negotiations and a threatened strike, members of the Association of Plainfield Teachers voted to approve a five-year contract with the district on Nov. 1, and the school board ratified the deal on Nov. 6.

Changes to the Plainfield pay scale are retroactive to July 1, and the contract will run through June 30, 2022. The union represents roughly 1,900 classroom teachers and other certified staff.

In Palatine CCSD 15, members of the Education Support Personnel Association union, which went on strike on Oct. 15, returned to work without a contract after a two-week strike. The association includes school nurses, special education classroom aides, and school secretaries. Schools remained open, and a federal judge ordered the employees considered “essential” – nurses and some aides – back to work on Oct. 18. The board presented an offer on Oct. 27 that was rejected; however, as mentioned, striking employees returned to work without an agreement and negotiations continue.

Nearly 450 workers are members of the union in District 15 who have been without a contract. The main sticking point in the Palatine negotiations appears to be annual pay raises.

Elsewhere, a contract impasse between A-C Central CUSD 262 (Ashland) and the A-C Central support staff came to an end when a three-year contract settlement was reached on Dec. 6. Negotiations had broken down after three months, according to a State Journal Register newspaper report on November 8. At issue were wages for transportation staff, cooks, classroom aides, secretaries, and custodians.

The tentative agreement still requires final approval by the school board and the union, but district officials said things are expected to return to normal — with no strike anticipated — once that has happened.

Bargaining between the two sides began in August. The ACCEA voted on Dec. 7 to approve the agreement; the school board is slated to approve the agreement at its Dec. 20 meeting.

Officials have stated the agreement will last three years, retroactive to the beginning of the fiscal year.

In other labor developments, a contract dispute between the board of education for West Chicago CHSD 94 and the local teacher union have stretched well into December as the two sides remain far apart on proposed salaries.

Bargaining teams have been unable to reach a deal after more than two dozen formal sessions and 11 subcommittee meetings that began in April 2016. The school board reportedly presented its latest offer, a three-year deal, during a session with a federal mediator Nov. 27. Talks with the West Chicago Teachers Association, the union that represents 141 district employees, have dragged on for more than a year, with bargaining teams still deadlocked over salaries and health benefits.

Union members reportedly were preparing to make a counterproposal when negotiators held a mediation session Dec. 13. Another meeting with the mediator tentatively is scheduled for Dec. 20.

The high school serves about 2,100 students from Carol Stream, West Chicago and Winfield.

More information is available from the Illinois Education Labor Relations Board (IELRB), which collects public postings for education-related final offers. Current IELRB postings can be accessed here.