District 15 board, employee union disagree on how contract talks are going
Palatine Township Elementary District 15 and an employee union have different perceptions of how contract talks are going for support workers.
About 435 workers, whose collectively bargained contract expired June 30, are represented by the Educational Support Personnel Association. Another negotiation session Thursday night with a federal mediator concluded without a tentative deal. Salary and benefits have been sticking points in the negotiations for secretaries, nurses, program assistants and other support workers.
District 15 board President Lisa Szczupaj issued an upbeat statement Friday, saying each side made proposals.
"The board of education is optimistic about this progress and will continue to negotiate in good faith with fairness and respect to the (union)," she said. "Our focus remains on both fiscal responsibility and fair compensation for the (support employees), who are valued members of our staff."
However, Amy Kunz, a representative in the union's Palatine office, said the school board Thursday made a counterproposal that "retracted or reduced prior agreements."
"These actions significantly derailed and convoluted the bargaining process in over 23 separate language areas," Kunz said. "The union asserts these actions constitute bad faith and regressive bargaining."
A proposal to cut a 10-month secretary's work year by 25 days, from 215 to 190, is one example of regressive bargaining, according to the union.
Both sides are to resume negotiations Thursday, Oct. 5.
In loosely termed "final offers" submitted earlier to the Illinois Educational Labor Relations Board, as required by state law, the union seeks a five-year contract in which most workers would receive an average 3 percent raise in the first year, with all getting 3 percent annual hikes in the second year and beyond.
District 15's offer is for a roughly 6 percent pay hike spread over four years, with additional income for specific groups such as nurses, secretaries and special education program assistants.