Contract talks stalled in Bloomingdale District 13
Teacher contract talks have stalled in Bloomingdale Elementary District 13, where the two sides have no immediate plans to return to the bargaining table, the school board president said Tuesday.
As the clock winds down on the current contract that expires Thursday, a group of teachers marched and carried signs outside the district's main offices before attending a school board meeting that drew about 100 people Monday night.
Last month, the union representing more than 100 educators in the three-school district requested a federal mediator join the talks, school board President Diane Birkley said.
Negotiators with the Bloomingdale Council of Teachers, Local No. 571 IFT-AFT, AFL-CIO "cut short" the first session with the mediator June 6, and moved to cancel a second one the next day, Birkley said.
The district's attorney on June 8 sent a letter to Tom Smith, a field service director with the Illinois Federation of Teachers, that "expressed our displeasure" and proposed several dates to continue talks this month and next, Birkley said.
Union leaders responded with a date of their own: Aug. 8, or nine days before students return to school, Birkley said.
The district's negotiating team -- including Birkley and school board Vice President Cary Moreth -- is still requesting a meeting in July.
"I think collective bargaining is a challenge under the best of circumstances," Birkley said. "And I think in the interests of all stakeholders, the sooner we can resolve this the better for all."
Smith did not return phone calls seeking comment Tuesday.
Tiffany Denning, the Bloomingdale Council of Teachers president, said a date has been set to return to the table, but would not comment further and hung up on a Daily Herald reporter.
"I would love to know their reasoning, because school starts on (Aug. 17) and we would certainly like to resolve this in July," Birkley said. "We're hopeful and confident that we can come to terms in July."
Salaries are one of the issues that remain on the table, said Birkley, who declined to discuss specifics. Under the current three-year contract, teachers received a 5 percent raise to their base pay in the first year and a 4 percent increase in each of the last two years of the deal.
The average teacher salary is $52,073, said Superintendent Jon Bartelt, who last heard from union representatives earlier this week about firming up a date to resume bargaining.
"We're just waiting for them to agree to come back to the table," he said.
Talks on a new contract began in March. Neither side has presented their best and final offer, said Birkley, adding that's she's "fully confident" an agreement can be reached.
"We want to maintain the working relationship and the mutually respectful relationship we have with the union, and I think when we come to terms on the salary, we will begin the healing process, if you will," she said.