D-158 teachers back a strike

HUNTLEY – Teachers in District 158 have authorized a strike, union leaders said Thursday, and said they remain committed to negotiating a “fair” contract with the

The union, formally the Huntley Education Association, said in a news release that its 600-plus members overwhelmingly authorized a strike Wednesday after rejecting the school district’s latest offer. Terms of that offer were not disclosed and the HEA did not disclose the strike vote tally.

The vote means teachers can picket 28 days after an impasse is declared. Neither side has declared an impasse.

“The Huntley Education Association will continue to negotiate with the district in good faith to work towards a fair contract,” the union news release said.

HEA co-president Jule McLaughlin did not respond to calls for comment.

The union and the district’s bargaining team are scheduled to meet again in mid-November.

The strike authorization caught Don Drzal, the school board’s vice president, by surprise.

He said he could not comment until the district is officially informed of the vote.

“We weren’t informed of it,” Drzal said. “But we’ve had good negotiations all long, as we’ve been saying. I’m interested in hearing from the HEA what exactly transpired and where they are going.”

The HEA did picket for three days in September 2008 before agreeing to contract that included increases in base salaries and retirement benefits for teachers.

This round of negotiations started in July, and both sides requested a third-party mediator to help resolve their differences a month later. In September, board members and union leaders reached a tentative deal, but HEA members rejected it.

The parties reportedly are at odds over salaries and benefits. Teachers continue to be compensated under terms of the contract that expired in June.

HEA is not alone among area teacher unions dissatisfied with contract negotiations.

Nearly 97 percent of the District 300 teachers union authorized a strike Sunday in Carpentersville. The union has not called for a strike.

Prairie Grove School District 46 teacher went on strike for a day this month before reaching a tentative, undisclosed deal.

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