Danville Teachers Overwhelmingly Support Strike
A negotiating session Sunday is all that will keep Danville teachers and support staff from walking off the job.
Union President Robin Twidwell said a vote to strike got overwhelming support in a membership meeting Wednesday night, almost exactly the same numbers as when the Danville Education Association backed an intent-to-strike vote two weeks ago. A strike is set to start Monday, but Twidwell said there is a chance Sunday's negotiations can avert that.
"We still remain hopeful that we will be able to get this contract settled on Sunday and resume our normal duties on Monday," said Twidwell.
After the votes were cast by union members, the school board held a two-hour closed session meeting to discuss the ripple affect a strike could have on the school district. School board president Bill Dobbles said a strike would essentially shut down schools in the area, bringing a halt to extracurricular activities and most sporting events.
"The only exception is that I think there's some like middle school state tournaments going on," he said. "If a tournament started before the strike, then those teams can continue to play."
Dobbles also said health insurance covered through the district would for now remain intact, but he said depending how long a strike lasts, that could eventually fall into the hands of union members.
The school board will continue discussing its response to a possible strike on Friday afternoon. Dobbles said he remains hopeful that the two sides can reach common ground by Sunday's negotiating session at 2pm with a federal mediator. This will be the fourth meeting in which the two sides have sought mediation.
District 118 Superintendent Mark Denman said progress was made in a 4-hour session Tuesday night, but Twidwell said she would characterize it as 'having dialogue' on some issues.
The union is asking for salary increases, ways to balance the larger class sizes caused by last spring's staff reductions, and improved retirement incentives.