The District 300 teachers union has declared a negotiations impasse, bringing it closer to a possible strike, the union said Monday in a news release.
The impasse declaration was sent by the Local Education Association of District 300 on Monday to the Illinois Educational Labor Relations Board. The move means the 1,300-member union can go on strike in a minimum of 28 days.
Phone calls to school board member Joe Stevens, who is acting as the district’s lead negotiator, were not returned.
Last month, the union membership overwhelmingly voted to authorize the negotiating team to call for a strike if the team felt negotiations were unproductive.
“Nothing has changed about our commitment to negotiate a fair and equitable agreement,” LEAD300 Communications Chairman Mike Williamson said in a news release. “But we need the Board of Education to come to the table with fairness in mind so we can complete the process soon. They don’t seem to share our sense of urgency about this contract. We feel that time is running out.”
Williamson reiterated that negotiations between the district and the union will continue.
LEAD300 and the school board have been negotiating since January. The last contract expired June 30 and the union and the district have been working with a mediator since August.
The next negotiation session is scheduled for Wednesday.
Declaring an impasse is a state law requirement that must take place before teachers can strike.
“No one wants a strike,” Williamson said. “But we are prepared for any contingency in the event that negotiations stall as they have in the recent past. The administration should not underestimate the resolve of LEAD’s members.”
Issues of contention between the union and the district include class size, learning environment and compensation.
The union has wanted smaller class sizes or better compensation for teaching classes that can average between 33 and 37 students at the elementary level.
Administrators have said talks are stalled over finances and how to pay for certain union demands.
The union and the district need to send their final offers to the state’s labor relations board in the next seven days. Those offers will be reviewed for seven days. The offers by then will have be posted online for 14 days.
“It doesn’t necessarily mean we’ll go on strike the minute the 28 days are up,” Williamson said.
Before a strike can take place, the union also would have to file a 10-day strike notice, which can be done during the impasse declaration.
Whether a strike notice is filed will depend on how bargaining goes, Williamson said.
Williamson said the union feels the school board has moved slowly in negotiations, and has to make large-scale moves for a deal to be made.
“We’ve been engaged in concession bargaining for this year and previous negotiations,” Williamson said. “We’re already tired of being asked of what can be taken.”
Williamson added the district also is no longer competitive with nearby districts.
“They need to get more serious,” Williamson said.