Rockford Public Schools superintendent sends letter to teachers regarding possible strike
Editor’s note: Rockford Public School District 205 Interim Superintendent Dr. Robert Willis sent the following message to District 205 teachers Monday, March 26, regarding ongoing contract negotiations and a possible teachers’ strike. Along with the message was a four-page document titled “RPS 205 Bargaining: Setting the Record Straight.” Click here to view the full document from Willis. To read more about the ongoing contract dispute between District 205 and the Rockford teachers’ union, the Rockford Education Association (REA), click here. Members of the REA were expected to meet March 26 to determine their course of action. The REA filed its intent to strike notice with the Illinois Educational Labor Relations Board March 12, which paved the way for a legal strike to occur at any time after a 10-day waiting period.
Dear RPS 205 Teacher:
The District respects you as teachers and as individuals, but especially for your dedication to our students. I truly hope that these negotiations will not compromise our shared values and that we can continue to come together to put students first.
It has been almost a year since we began negotiating with the REA for a new agreement that puts our students first. After 10 months now, we find ourselves at a point where we are faced with the possibility of a strike.
Let me be clear no one wins in a strike. The District has a comprehensive contingency plan in place, just as any prudent employer, but I truly hope we do not have to use it. A strike may hurt our students, teachers, this community and the District.
Misinformation is at an all-time high at this point and there are some rumors I would like to set straight. In addition to the attached Myths & Facts document, here are a few important points:
• The decision to strike is up to you. The District will respect your decision-whether it is to strike of not to strike. In either case, you will remain an employee and the District will not tolerate any retaliation against you.
• The District will not be locking out teachers who want to work. Those teachers who work their regularly scheduled work hours will receive full pay and benefits. Those who choose to strike, will not be paid and will be issued COBRA notices at the appropriate time and will be responsible for paying the full cost of health care.
• Neither the REA nor the District can guarantee that any days lost due to a strike will be made up by adding days at the end of the scheduled school year.
Rockford Public Schools District 205 has not had a strike in nearly 30 years – since 1984. We want to reach a fair, new agreement as soon as possible. This dispute should be settled at the bargaining table – because that is where solutions are found. For your review, attached is a document that outlines the facts in a straightforward way.
The District has been reasonable in negotiations and has made significant change and compromises. The District’s approach and position on the primary issues has remained constant. As we draw near to the most crucial time in these negotiations, we remain available to continue to negotiate to reach a new agreement.
Robert H. Willis, Ph.D.
Posted March 26, 2012
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