West Chicago High School teachers to vote Wednesday on new contract
West Chicago High School teachers will vote Wednesday to ratify a tentative contract reached with the school board last month after nearly two years of negotiations.
Union members will cast secret ballots during lunch periods in the staff lounge at the high school. If teachers sign off on the four-year pact, the school board would follow suit at a meeting March 20.
The two sides came to an agreement during a marathon bargaining session Feb. 15, just hours before teachers planned to go on strike. Since then, negotiators have been working out the contract language and crafting the final document.
West Chicago High School Teachers Association President Brad Larson has said he has "no concerns" about the union ratifying the proposed contract. A simple majority of the association's 141 members is needed to approve it.
Shortly after the breakthrough in talks, Larson said a new salary structure made the difference. The school board previously sought a formula-based structure tied to the Consumer Price Index, a measure of inflation.
The contract would boost teacher pay an average 3.52 percent in the first year, 2.73 percent in the second, 2.91 percent in the third and 2.92 percent in the fourth. Those raises encompass base salary increases and so-called step increases based on a teacher's length of service. Teachers also receive increases based on their education.
A teacher with a bachelor's degree and no previous experience hired this year would make $42,932 in the first year of the contract, retroactive to August. That salary would increase to $46,587 in the final year.
Teachers also have agreed to provisions to phase out a retirement incentive that gives them a 6 percent salary bump in their final four years of employment. The district will eliminate the incentive when the contract expires at the end of the 2020-21 school year.
The two sides also agreed to sunset a provision that pays health insurance benefits for retirees until they qualify for Medicare.