Teacher Talks Resume Friday; Here's the Timeline If an Agreement Isn't Reached

It's safe to say that no one in Geneva wants to see a teachers strike. But as the School Board and Geneva Education Association meeti on Friday, the clock is ticking. Here's the timeline.

The words used by School Board President Mark Grosso to describe Tuesday's meeting between the Geneva Education Association and the board's negotiating team sounded positive. The two sides had a six-hour session that Grosso described as "constructive."

The two sides are scheduled to meet again Friday, and if a settlement is reached, there likely will be cheers throughout the community.

If a settlement isn't reached, however, the timeline to a possible teachers strike looks like this, according to the School District 304 "neogitations webpage."

Oct. 26—School District 304's final offers is made public.

The GEA's final offer already has been posted on gea4students.org.

State rules require that each party's final offer be made public seven days after receipt of those final offers, assuming no settlement has been reached. The Illinois Educational Relations Board will make the final offers public, including the cost summaries, by posting them on its website

Nov. 9—The first possible day teachers could engage in a strike.

Once final offers are posted on the IELRB website, at least 14 days must have elapsed before the GEA/IEA-NEA may engage in a strike. Although the GEA voted Oct. 17 to authorize a strike, that does not mean teachers are required to strike if a settlement isn't reached.

Additionally, if the GEA does intend to engage in a strike, it would have to give the district at least 10 days' written notice of its intent to strike, the School District page says.

Geneva Education Association President Carol Young says in a YouTube video posted on the GEA website that "we are not making progress" to finalize a new teachers contract." However, that post has a date stamp of Sunday, Oct. 21—two days prior to Tuesday's six-hour meeting.

"The last thing we need and want in this community is a teachers strike," she says in the video. "But that is where we are headed right now."

The previous teachers contract expired Aug. 15.

Young reiterates in the video that one of the key issues is that the "board drew a line in the sand, saying they would make no further movement unless we accepted the terms" of a hard freeze.

Teachers have been working under the conditions of the previous three-year contract. 

Grosso explained at Monday's School Board meeting that each teacher receives a 2.65 percent step increase each year. Teachers also receive a 2.65 percent increase for every eight hours of advanced-degree coursework they complete. A teacher receives more than a 5 percent increase for each lane beyond a master's degree under the previous contract.

As an example, a teacher who completes one lane of coursework in the 2013-14 school year would earn a 6.3 percent pay increase in 2014 under the terms of the "final offer" posted by the GEA.

Young says in the video that steps and lanes are needed because teachers—unlike other professionals—don't have opportunities for advancement.

"The step increases have been maligned of late as an increase for just 'hanging around' another year," she said. "In actuality, this increase is what allows teaching to be a career for most of us. Teachers can't move up the corporate ladder as most professions do. We don't get promotions with their accompanying pay raises. We teach our whole career. So we need a way to compensate experienced teachers for staying in the district."

The concern is that the step increases compound over time, and teachers can't "get back to where they should have been."

"One lost step can cost a teacher $20,000 over the course of their career," Young says in the video. "So now you know why a freeze is not something the GEA is willing to consider."

While the School Board has yet to publish its final offer, Young says. "There is nothing in their proposal that is truly beneficial to teachers."

She says the GEA understands how hard the economy has been on some residents within the District 304 boundaries.

"If us taking a freeze would actually help those people, we would be happy to accept this, but that is not the case," she says in the video.

"There's a lot of rhetoric being batted around right now. It is difficult to know what to believe, but the bottom line is we need to get this contract settled now."

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Related Articles


  • Reports: GEA Members Authorize Strike; Nov. 9 Earliest Possible Strike
  • Geneva Teachers Express Frustration Over Stalled Negotiations
  • UPDATE: Geneva School Board Calls Special Meeting to Discuss Teacher Negotiations
  • Is a Teachers' Strike Possible in Geneva? Green Buttons Show Solidarity on First Day of School
  • Patch Poll: How Much of An Increase Should Geneva Teachers Get?
  • Batavia Teachers Get Raises in New Two-Year Contract; Geneva Still Negotiating
  • Where Do You Stand on the Geneva Teachers' Union Negotiations?
  • Geneva Teachers Expected to Picket Before Tuesday School Board
  • State Teachers Union Announces Geneva Talks at Impasse
  • UPDATE: Geneva Teachers Union Posts Its 'Final Offer'
  • District 304: GEA's 'Final Offer' Calls for 18% Salary Hike in Final 3 Years Before Retirement

someone who cares October 27, 2012 at 11:38 AM
Bob - on your second point I have to disagree with you. The union can be replaced with replacement teachers who are certified. There is no legal requirement to have a union in the school district. The requirements for teaching children in an Illinois school district boils down to three basic points: 1) 50% of the students in the district attend classes, 2) the students are taught by certified teachers and 3) students receive daily instruction in math, science, history and language arts. If the community of Geneva supports the use of replacement teachers then the BOE does not have to negotiate with the current union. The BOE, if willing to go along with the community, should then stop the negotiations with the union. You are correct in that the teachers have a right to join a union. It doesn't mean the school board has to negotiate with them when the contract ends. At this point, with the intent to strike authorized by the GEA, the community and the BOE should work together to put alternative plans in place to keep the students in school. By performing the above three points, our students can continue to learn and go to school. We need to ask the BOE to do this and be willing, as a community, to assist in this process.
JP October 28, 2012 at 04:43 AM
I share your concern, Michail. To the BoE's credit - they have worked through some marathon negotiation sessions to try to arrive at a fiscally responsible solution. As volunteers, I take my hat off to them. But in the union contract - Step & Lane has to go. It's an outdated model that rewards longevity rather than performance. That's how we end up with 100K librarians and drivers ed instructors. That model cannot work moving forward, but the Union is going to cling to it with their last breath. I'm concerned that the last year of the contract the BoE is offering brings revives the 2.65% step payment. For the sake of our future we need to put step & lane in the trash bin permanently. It will happen - it's an economic inevitability. As a community we can either lead or follow.
Elaine Lane October 28, 2012 at 12:48 PM
Pat L, if it's true the Harrison principal made the decision to have the kids wear GREEN on a THURSDAY, he/she didn't spend enough time thinking it through.
Elaine Lane October 28, 2012 at 12:58 PM
Marsha, not to make light of your children's concerns, but I work with quite a few Geneva teenagers and they're mostly worried about losing some of their Christmas break, spring break, and part of their summer to make up missed days caused by a strike, lol.
Rick Anderson October 30, 2012 at 11:11 PM
What the teachers don't realize in the broad terms is that their pensions are likely to go bankrupt whether or not the state funds them. Communities all over the state will go bankrupt because the most dangerous politician in Illinois, Mad Mike Madigan will transfer the pension obligations to local communities. If the teachers union would just simply educate themselves on those specifics and discover reasonable viable options they can stay ahead of the impending hurricane fiscal mess. The GEA is immune to listening to taxpayer challenges and troubles. That is what is so sad. And it isn't a "temporary" situation. These are unprecedented times we are coping with.


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