D-158 teachers step toward strike

HUNTLEY – The District 158 teachers union inched closer to a strike Tuesday, formally declaring an impasse in negotiations with the district board.

The two sides primarily have split over compensation since early September, the district said in a news release. Neither side has disclosed specifics in negotiations, which started in summer.

The more than 600 teachers of the Huntley Education Association rejected a tentative deal in early September, and in a vote about a month later gave the union the authority to call a strike. No strike date has been set.

“The board believes that both sides want to reach a compromise that is beneficial for the staff, students and taxpayers of District 158,” the district news release said.

The board and union met Tuesday evening for a bargaining session, the release said.

Board Vice President Don Drzal and HEA co-president Julie McLaughlin did not respond to calls for comment late Tuesday.

Union leaders criticized the board last week for canceling the meeting with a mediator. It’s unclear how and when the meeting was rescheduled. The two sides are tentatively scheduled to meet again Nov. 28 .

The declaration of an impasse is the last procedural step for the HEA to strike. Teachers can decide to picket 28 days after the declaration, which requires both sides to submit final offers to a state labor board.

HEA teachers currently are being compensated under terms of a contract that expired in June.

Teachers went on strike for three days in September 2008 before agreeing to a contract that increased base salaries and retirement benefits.

McLaughlin told the Northwest Herald late last week that union leaders were discussing the possibility of an impasse.

Then, she downplayed the discussion, saying any teachers union has to start thinking about declaring an impasse when negotiations reach the mediation phase.

In neighboring Carpentersville, the teachers union in District 300 declared an
impasse Nov. 5 in negotiations over class sizes and finances.

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