Danville School Board Files Complaint Against Union
It has been more than a month since the old contract between the Danville school district and its employees union expired --- and more than two months since negotiators for the two sides sat down at the bargaining table. Now, the school board has filed an Unfair Labor Practice complaint with the Illinois Education Labor Relations Board --- accusing it of refusing to come to the bargaining table.
District 118 Superintendent Mark Denman said the Danville Education Association has turned down several invitations to hold contract talks.
“We have sent out repeated requests to meet, giving a total of 19 different days, of which only one was agreed to," Denman said. “And there are issues that need to be reconciled, the new contract needs to be negotiated, and we feel it’s time that we start talking.”
District 118’s Unfair Labor Practice complaint is similar to one filed by the DEA against the school board in June --- both call on the other to return to the bargaining table to negotiate in good faith.
The disagreement is over how negotiations should be held. Up until now, the two contracts --- one for teachers, the 2nd for other employees --- have been negotiated together. But now, the Danville school board wants the two contracts to be negotiated in separate sessions, by separate bargaining teams.
In a news release issued Friday, the school board argued that the different bargaining units for teachers and other district employees represent different “communities of interest." Those are the words of district business director Heather McKiernan, who serves as chief negotiator for District 118’s Secretary/LRC bargaining team.
But the DEA said the two contracts are more alike than different, and should continue to be negotiated together.
Union President Robin Twidwell said the school board’s demand is an attempt to split the union.
“When we talk about the Danville Education Association, we are referring to teachers, teaching assistants, secretaries, learning resource clerks, which comprise both contracts," Twidwell said. “And we just feel like the school board at this point in time is trying to separate us.”
Danville school employees last went on strike in 2010. But Twidwell said that even without a contract, she expects teachers and other staff to be on the job as usual, when school begins on Aug. 27.