11/1/07

Teachers vote to strike in Chicago suburb

On Tuesday, teachers here overwhelmingly voted to strike if ongoing negotiations with the School District fail to produce a contract, Yorkville Education Association President Michele Breyne said.

The vote, in which Breyne said more than 96 percent of the approximately 300 union members supported an authorization for intent to strike, followed a public disagreement about contract negotiations, which have been ongoing since the summer.

At a Monday night School Board meeting, board member Dean Fisher said teachers had turned down an 18 percent salary increase over three years. Assistant Superintendent Frank Bogner said Fisher's statement reflects the views of the administration and the board. "The board's opinion is that 18 percent was discussed with no change in benefits and then when that discussion got to a more firm level, that wasn't accepted by the teachers," Bogner said.

Teachers had a different recollection of the negotiations. "There was never a formal written 18 percent offer made by either side," Breyne said, adding that Fisher was not present during the negotiations.

Fisher's statement and Breyne's response were the first public comments on the negotiations by any party. In the past, both teachers and district officials cited a joint agreement to keep quiet.

Bogner said he did not believe Fisher had breached that agreement and had no opinion on whether the agreement had been breached in the past.

A provision of Yorkville teachers' existing contract authorizes them to work until a new one can be reached.

(suburbanchicagonews.com)

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