Friday, October 19, 2012
D158 Board Challenges Teachers Union, "Respectfully"
"The vote was overwhelming," said HEA President Julie McLaughlin this morning, although she was unable to provide a precise number. One of HEA's negotiators, she declined to talk about terms of the latest contract offer or teachers' objections to it. Board member Don Drzal, a negotiator on the other side, also declined to discuss terms terms Thursday. Last month teachers rejected an initial agreement approved at the bargaining table but the problems with that one weren't disclosed, either.
The best guess is the problem is salaries. One clue Thursday might have come when Evans, Marshall & Pease auditor Paul Thermen ran through a summary of the District's finances. He commented in passing that many of the 25 school districts whose books he reviews were facing new teacher contracts with scanty funds. "One administrator told me, 'We'll be hard-pressed to give them one percent'," he said.
"Would you repeat that?" said Member Tony Quagliano. Thermen obliged for everyone present at the late hour, essentially, the Board and FEN.
Wednesday's authorization vote only pre-positions union negotiators to call a strike. Illinois law doesn't allow teachers to walk, however, until 28 days after one side or the other declares an impasse. That hasn't happened yet and McLaughlin said, "We hope to work this out at the table." Another negotiating session with a federal mediator in between the Board and HEA is set for Nov. 13.