Rockford teachers’ union declares impasse in negotiations with school district, threatens strike
Editor’s note: The Rockford Education Association (REA), the local union representing Rockford Public School District 205 teachers, issued the following press release Feb. 23 regarding contract negotiations with the school district. A press release from the school district follows the release from the REA.
“Today, Feb. 23, 2012, the Rockford Education Association sent notification to the Illinois Educational Labor Relations Board to formally declare negotiations impasse with the Rockford Board of Education. This legal process begins the timeline which could lead to the declaration of a strike by the members of the REA.”
REA President Karen Bieschke added: “Our intent in declaring impasse is to publicly announce that progress in negotiations is not being made and time is running out. This action was authorized by the REA membership at the Coronado last week. We believe that it is necessary to send a message to the board and superintendent that their proposed reductions in benefits and working conditions are totally unacceptable. The REA remains committed to negotiate at every opportunity in order to reach a fair and equitable agreement.”
Editor’s note: Rockford Public School District 205 issued the following press release Feb. 23 in response to the REA’s announcement:
ROCKFORD SCHOOL DISTRICT EXPRESSES DISAPPOINTMENT IN REA DECLARATION OF IMPASSE
District is ready, willing and able to continue bargaining
Rockford School District 205 today said it was disappointed in the REA’s abrupt declaration of impasse, given the fact that there are still proposals on the table on which the district is still waiting for responses from the union.
“The REA’s declaration of impasse is premature because there is still a lot of bargaining to be done and the district is ready, willing and able to continue bargaining,” said Dr. Robert Willis, interim superintendent of the Rockford Public Schools. “The district remains confident that we can reach a fair new agreement if more energy is focused at the bargaining table.”
After the most recent board meeting on Feb. 14, the district’s bargaining team returned to the table Feb. 17 and tried to find middle ground with the REA. The district believes that it is inappropriate to declare an impasse now when there are still more mutually agreed-upon bargaining sessions already scheduled.
The district is committed to providing teachers with competitive pay and benefits. The average total compensation package for a Rockford teacher under the current agreement is $83,000 per year. 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 averaging more than $100,000 a year.
Rockford District 205 teacher compensation is also very competitive with comparable districts. The average salary for a Rockford District 205 teacher has increased 43.8 percent during the last eight years. 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 teacher pay increases ranging from 2.26 percent to 12.25 percent each year.
Though the district accepts the REA’s declaration of impasse, the law requires both parties to negotiate in good faith, and the district reaffirms its commitment to do so.
Posted Feb. 23, 2012
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