Addison teachers protest before mediation session
Union members, supporters march before Dist. 4 mediation session
Addison Elementary District 4 teachers marched along Lake Street after classes Monday to protest a stalemate in contract negotiations with the school board.
The two sides met Monday evening with a federal mediator for the first time since they released "final" contract offers that exposed divisions over proposed salaries for teachers.
Negotiators were still meeting as of about 9:30 p.m., and union officials said they were prepared to bargain late into the night if the two sides were making progress. Another session also has been scheduled for 6 p.m. Dec. 6.
But before they resumed talks, about three dozen teachers and parents organized a "support walk" outside the district's offices and Indian Trail Junior High in Addison. They carried signs reading "Money Belongs in the Schools -- Not in the Bank" and "Teachers Care" while drivers honked their horns at Lake Street and Kennedy Drive.
Rank-and-file teachers declined to comment because they said they were not authorized to speak to a reporter. But Janelle Bledsoe, the Addison Teachers Association's negotiation co-chairwoman, said educators remain "very much united" after nearly eight months at the bargaining table.
The two sides have been unable to agree on salaries and health benefits in a proposed three-year contract. Ahead of the mediation session, they also had not resolved contract language for an existing insurance advisory board and educational advancement, Bledsoe said.
The union is seeking 2 percent annual baseline salary increases over the next three years in addition to "longevity" increases that would boost the total raises for teachers with five to 24 years' experience to roughly 6.5 percent in the first year and 6 percent in each of the next two.
The association, which represents 307 full- and part-time members, argues that its current salaries lag behind those of educators in most DuPage County elementary districts.
A teacher with 10 years' experience and a master's degree is paid $57,313 in District 4, compared with a DuPage County average of $66,171.83, the union said in its 25-page contract proposal released last week. That ranks 26th out of 30 districts, the union says.
"One of our goals in this process is to help our association and our teachers move toward an agreement that helps us reach market averages," Bledsoe said. "And we're trying to make gradual gains toward that, and when we look at the board's proposal, they would move us away from those averages."
Under the school board's contract proposal, the district would provide raises for all teachers totaling roughly 4 percent in the first year and 3.5 percent in each of the next two years.
The district also would continue to award additional compensation to teachers who complete eligible graduate coursework.
Teachers have been working under the terms of a three-year pact that expired at the end of June. The two sides met 11 times since last March and held several sessions with the mediator before the school board declared the impasse on Oct. 27.
The district enrolls about 4,180 children who are taught in an early learning center, seven elementary schools and one junior high.