West Chicago High School teachers ratify 4-year contract
West Chicago High School teachers voted overwhelmingly Wednesday to ratify a contract agreement with the school board after narrowly avoiding a strike last month.
More than 92 percent of the union's 141 members voted in favor of the four-year deal, an Illinois Education Association spokeswoman said. The union is not releasing the exact breakdown of the votes made by secret ballot.
Now that the West Chicago High School Teachers Association has accepted the tentative contract, the school board is expected to follow suit at a meeting March 20.
"We're very pleased to have a new contact," Union President Brad Larson said. "We look forward to the board approving it on Tuesday. While we are glad that we are able to settle and avoid a strike, there is much work yet to be done to make our school and our district a place where teachers and the other staff who work here are treated and compensated in a fair and respectful way."
The two sides came to an agreement after nearly two years of talks 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.
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.
A final draft of the contract is posted on the district's website at D94.org.