Huntley teachers, union share side but few details after strike vote
By Emily McFarlan Miller email@example.com October 23, 2012 12:08AM
Updated: November 24, 2012 6:18AM
HUNTLEY — Teachers in Huntley Consolidated School District 158 are the latest in the Chicago area to authorize their union leaders to strike — a vote that since has turned into a war of words between the union and district.
The Huntley Education Association “overwhelmingly” authorized a strike vote on Wednesday, according a brief email Friday from HEA President Julie McLaughlin. That came just days after teachers in nearby Community Unit School District 300 took a similar vote.
Meantime, District 158 had issued a much longer statement Thursday night, expressing how “disappointed” its board of education is the teachers union has now rejected two tentative agreements reached by representatives of the school board and union.
And the HEA responded over the weekend with its own statement correcting what it called “some material errors and omissions” made by the school district.
District 158 and its union have been in negotiations since July and agreed to mediation in late September, after teachers rejected the first of those agreements, according to the district.
Both sides reached a three-year tentative agreement on Sept. 5 that was rejected by teachers Sept. 10, according to the district. Only one-third of the union’s members was present for that vote, the district said.
They reached a second, one-year tentative agreement with the help of a federal mediator Oct. 10, it said. On Wednesday, union members voted to reject that agreement, too, it said.
Not only that, according to the statement from District 158, but teachers also voted to authorize its leadership to strike at that time. The district learned about that vote “through the media,” it said.
That’s not what happened at that second meeting, according to the teachers union. Its bargaining team had taken the school board’s most recent offer to its members before requesting the strike vote, but that offer had not been agreed to “in any way,” it said.
“The statement that a second tentative agreement was reached at the negotiations table is patently false and can only be construed as an intentional misstatement by the BOE,” according to the HEA statement.
Nearly twice as many members voted at that meeting than at the first, the union said. And the result was “substantially” the same, it said.
Neither side has commented on sticking points in their negotiations. District 158 Board of Education Vice President Don Drzal said the last teachers strike was four years ago.
“It appears that the HEA negotiating team does not have the authority to enter into a ratifiable agreement. The Board respectfully requests the HEA membership send a team that has the authority to enter into an agreement and ensure ratification,” according to the district statement.