Members of the Yorvkille Education Assocation (YEA), the union representing Yorkville School District teachers, voted Tuesday night to go on strike if an agreement on a new employment contract for the district's teachers isn't reached by Dec. 2, the union said in a statement.
Although a strike could be called as early as Nov. 19, YEA officials confirmed their intention is to give the negotiations process additional time for the parties to work toward an agreement, according to the statement.
The YEA is scheduled to host a public forum on the negotations next Tuesday, Nov. 10 at 7 p.m. at the Yorkville Congregational Church, 409 Center Parkway, Yorkville.
“This is very, very disappointing for all of us, as we know it is for the entire community,” said Shawn Collins, president of the YEA. “No teacher in this school district wants to strike. What we want is to achieve a fair employment agreement and to continue providing the children with the high quality education they deserve. We’re prepared to take this action only if necessary and only as a last resort.”
The teachers have been working without a contract since June 30.
YEA and school district representatives are scheduled to meet Sunday, Nov. 15 in an effort to continue the contract talks. The two sides have been negotiating for about a year.
Teachers and district officials were also scheduled to meet yesterday (Nov. 4.) the same day that the Illinois Labor Relations Board was expected to post the two sides' contract proposals for public viewing on the board's website..
Collins said several issues remain unresolved in negotiations, including guidelines governing teacher evaluation, elementary teacher planning time, sick leave, length of employee work day, career advancement compensation, health coverage and issues related to employee compensation.
The district had announced this week that they made progress on one item during recent negotiations. The two sides were able to reach a tentative agreement regarding the YEA's concerns about the implementation of a student achievement stipend. The district also announced that they reached a tentative agreement over the structure of district level committee compensation
Over the last several weeks the two sides have continued negotiations as a federal mediator was brought in and an impasse was declared by the district last month. Shortly after the teachers began “dress rehearsal” picketing in Town Square Park off Route 47 in Yorkville.
One of the major issues the two sides continue to discuss is teacher compensation, including “step increases” and performance based compensation.
School district officials said the steps increase are “automatic pay increases that are granted in addition to increases in a teacher’s base salary.” A press release issued by the district said in the last contract the average step increase was 2.78 percent.
YEA members have disputed these claims saying the increases need to be bargained for and are never automatic.
Teachers are seeking to retain a standard professional salary schedule as a method of distributing professional compensation, and as a means to attract and retain quality teachers. The school board is seeking to eliminate the professional salary schedule, according to the YEA press release.
Collins said some progress was made in talks on Monday. The sides tentatively agreed to form a committee to study the implications of creating a merit pay system in the future, according to Collins.