Unit 4 Teachers Negotiate With District For The First Time Since Strike Vote

September 20, 2016
 
Members of the Champaign Federation of Teachers march from Central High School to the Mellon Administrative Center prior to Tuesday's contract talks.

Members of the Champaign Federation of Teachers march from Central High School to the Mellon Administrative Center prior to Tuesday's contract talks.

Jeff Bossert/Illinois Public Media

Champaign teachers were back at the bargaining table with Unit 4 officials Tuesday, two weeks after union members voted largely in favor of going on strike, if necessary. To prepare for those talks, about 150 members of the Champaign Federation of Teachers chanted as they marched from Central High School to the Mellon Administrative Center – where a brief picket was also held.

Tuesday's talks marked the 9th bargaining session since the prior contract expired June 30, and the second with a federal mediator.

Signs carried slogans like "Longer day, with no pay? No way!" and "Committed to our kids."

Speaking to media before negotiations, CFT President Jennifer White says the two sides were still at odds over district plans for extending the length of the school day and offering more money to positions that administrators say are "hard to fill."

She said there was a lot riding on Tuesday's talks.

“If we make some progress but aren’t quite done, we’ll certainly set another date and hopefully make more progress," White said.  "If we don’t make as much progress as we would like today, I would go back to members and determine next steps.”

White says the timing of another negotiating session will depend on the mediator’s schedule. The two sides have come to agreement on areas like health insurance, and compensation for teachers who sponsor clubs.

White says the earliest a strike could take place is mid-to-late October, after both the district and union have publicly posted their proposals for a week.

Story source: WILL