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Negotiations Update from the Board of Education: February 27, 2019

February 27, 2019

Second Update from the Board President Tom Drake and Superintendent John Ahlgrim on the Status of Labor Negotiations at Warren Township High School District No. 121

This is the second update on the status of negotiations between the Board of Education and the Warren Township High School Federation of Teachers and Classified Staff, which represents the majority of the employees working for the District.  The collective bargaining agreement expired on June 30, 2018, and the Board and the Union began exchanging proposals for a successor agreement in March of 2018. 

We previously wrote to update you on January 10, 2019, the day after the Union held a meeting at which the members authorized a strike vote.  At that time, we informed you that the Union had not taken any action to initiate the other statutory prerequisites necessary to actually go on strike.  Since our last communication, the Union initiated one of the statutory prerequisites necessary to go on strike.  Specifically, the Union initiated the “Public Posting Process.”  Under this process, effective today, the Union and the Board are both required to make public their most recent offer and to provide a corresponding cost summary.  Pursuant to the Illinois Education Labor Relations Act, the Parties’ most recent offer, as of February 19, 2019, can be found below.  Copies of both Parties’ offers are also posted to the website of the Illinois Educational Labor Relations Board, which can be found here https://www2.illinois.gov/sites/elrb/Pages/FinalOffers.aspx.  Additionally, we notified all news media that have filed an annual request for notices of the availability of the Board’s offer on the District’s website.  

The Board’s published offer represents a very competitive package of salary and benefits and we hope you will take the time to review it.  Please note, however, that the Board and the Union met one additional time after February 19, 2019, and the Board increased its salary offer again.  Although the Board and the Union’s most recent offers have significantly closed the gap, the Parties still are not at a stalemate or an impasse.   To the contrary, the parties have been making steady progress toward a new agreement.  After January 10, 2019, the Parties met eight additional times with a federal mediator from the Federal Mediation & Conciliation Services.  During these sessions, the Parties made substantial progress on Health Insurance, Salary and Retirement Benefits. 

The Board was disappointed that on February 22, 2019, the Union abruptly ended the negotiations session and was not at that time willing to schedule any future dates.   We are working with the federal mediator to bring the Parties back to the bargaining table and we continue to be optimistic that we will reach an agreement with the Union that honors the important contributions our employees make to the success of our students, allows the District to continue to attract and retain quality employees and also maintains the financial health and stability of the District. 

Importantly, as of the date of this letter, the Union must wait at least 14 days before it may go on strike and it must also serve a 10-day Notice of Intent to Strike to the District, the Regional Office of Education and the Illinois Educational Labor Relations Board. As of this communication, the Union has not served a 10-day Notice of Intent to Strike.  However, the earliest date on which the Union could strike, if the 10-Day Notice is timely served, is March 13, 2019.   

We will continue to keep you posted on any important developments related to these contract negotiations.   

Thomas Drake

 

John P. Ahlgrim, Ed.D.

President, Board of Education

 

Superintendent of Schools