School district rejects offer from teachers’ union, encourages union to return to the table
Online Staff Report
Editor’s note: Rockford Public School District 205 issued the following press release Feb. 15 regarding its ongoing contract negotiations with the local teachers’ union, the Rockford Education Association.
Today, the Rockford School District announced it has rejected the Rockford Education Association’s (REA) Feb. 9 proposal for a two-year contract, and called on the REA to return to the table to negotiate a new contract that positions the students, teachers, community and district for the future.
“We are confident that we can reach an agreement soon if the REA refocuses its efforts at the bargaining table,” said Dr. Robert Willis, interim superintendent of the Rockford Public Schools. “We have conducted more than 40 bargaining sessions over the last nine months. The REA proposed a two-year contract retroactive to July 1, 2011. This is unrealistic because we would have to start bargaining the next contract within a few months.
“The district respects and rewards our teachers for their good work,” Willis continued. “These teaching jobs are very good jobs in the Rockford community and our proposal will keep them very good jobs with highly competitive pay and benefits — while bringing our teachers onto the same health care plan as the district’s other employees.”
Of the approximately 1,800 teachers in the bargaining unit, more than 400 of the most senior teachers in the district currently receive total compensation and benefit packages that average more than $100,000 a year. The average district teacher currently receives a total compensation package of $83,000 per year.
Over the last eight years, the average salary for teachers in the district has increased 43.8 percent. In comparison, the Consumer Price Index has increased 21.1 percent. In addition to the raises received over the past eight years, the current salary schedule provides for automatic pay increases ranging from 2.26 percent to 12.25 percent each year for the majority of teachers.
The district was disappointed that the REA’s current written offer was worse than its last written offer for a three-year agreement, which the REA made Oct. 31, 2011. In labor negotiations, this type of bargaining is referred to as regressive bargaining and causes the district to question whether the REA is bargaining in good faith.
The district does not believe the parties are at impasse. The law requires both parties to negotiate in good faith, and the district reaffirmed its commitment to comply with the law.
The parties will return to the bargaining table when new bargaining dates are scheduled. For more about the status of negotiations, visit www.205teachernegotiations.com.
Posted Feb. 15, 2012
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