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D300 teachers declare impasse in talks

Updated: December 7, 2012 6:25AM

CARPENTERSVILLE — Community Unit School District 300 teachers declared an impasse Monday night in the union’s contract negotiations with the Carpentersville-based school district, according to Local Educators Association of District 300 spokesman Mike Williamson.

That starts the 28-day countdown to a possible teachers strike in the sixth-largest school district in Illinois.

“Nothing has changed about our commitment to negotiate a fair and equitable agreement,” Williamson said in a written statement from LEAD.

“But we need the Board of Education to come to the table with fairness in mind so we can complete the process soon. They don’t seem to share our sense of urgency about this contract. We feel that time is running out.”

The District 300 Board of Education, meantime, was in a closed session meeting Monday night and could not be reached for comment.

Williamson said the LEAD executive board voted to declare an impasse and filed the necessary paperwork with the Illinois Educational Labor Relations Board at about 5 p.m. Monday.

That follows a vote Oct. 14 by 97 percent of the union’s membership to give the LEAD bargaining team the authority to call a strike. Negotiations between District 300 and its teachers union started nearly a year ago in November 2011, and in earnest in January.

And it comes as teachers recently declared an impasse with Geneva Community Unit School District 304; teachers authorized their leadership to strike in nearby Huntley Consolidated School District 158; and teachers in Chicago, Evergreen Park, Crystal Lake, Highland Park all have gone out on strike.

But LEAD’s latest step doesn’t come because of actions in those other school districts, Williamson said: “It’s not in relation to that. It’s in relation to how we feel about the progress that’s been made.”

Some of the biggest issues that have emerged during negotiations have been class sizes and compensation, although union and district officials have said the district’s last proposal includes a modest salary increase and a reduction in elementary class sizes. District 300 Superintendent Michael Bregy has said the board feels very good about the fairness of that proposal, should it be required to make it public.

The union now could strike in about 28 days. That’s one of the requirements of Senate Bill 7, signed into law by Illinois Gov. Pat Quinn last summer.

The union and school district have seven days to submit their last, best deals to the IELRB. The labor relations board then has another seven days to post that information online. That information must be online and available to the public for a full 14 days before teachers can walk out.

That puts the earliest District 300 teachers could strike in early December.

But Williamson said the union still plans to meet with the school board Wednesday to negotiate, as both had planned. And it doesn’t mean the union plans to walk out the first day it is able.

“No one wants a strike,” he said.

“We are prepared for any contingency in the event that negotiations stall as they have in the recent past,” he said. “The administration should not underestimate the resolve of LEAD’s members.”

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