Teacher contract negotiations reach impasse in District 156

McHENRY – Negotiations between District 156 and its teachers union have reached an impasse.

In a move that surprised union negotiators, the district notified the state’s Educational Labor Relations Board of the impasse, said Greg Eiserman, co-president of the McHenry Community High School Teachers Association.

“We felt like progress was made at the last session, and we kind of thought the board had the same view,” Eiserman said. “We [the union] haven’t even discussed the work impasse. We were on board with the negotiating process.”

Superintendent Mike Roberts and school board President Steve Bellmore did not return calls for comment Friday evening.

Eiserman declined to say what the main points of contention were, but as part of the formal impasse process with the Illinois Educational Labor Relations Board, both sides’ most recent offers will be made available on its website.

Earlier this month, the union decided to adhere to building hours, which means teachers enter and leave the building at the times laid out in the last contract.

All additional duties that teachers receive stipends for – like coaching positions and extracurricular heads – still are being performed.

A mediator also had been brought in, and a third session is scheduled for Wednesday.

While District 156 usually has a contract by this point in the year, a mediator also was called in the last time a contract was negotiated.

Negotiations had never reached the impasse stage in the past 12 to 15 years, Eiserman said, adding the union is meeting next week to figure out what the next step is.

The last agreement, negotiated during a period of financial upheaval, resulted in a reduction in extracurricular stipend pay, higher health insurance contributions by teachers and frozen wages for the past two school years. The average teacher salary for the district is $72,196.

The district’s finances no longer are in such dire straits and the financial future is starting to looking positive, money still is tight, and the district’s education and retirement funds need shoring up, according to past conversations with Roberts.

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