Possible Strike Looms as D228, Teachers Union Continue Contract Talks
The Bremen School District 228 teacher's union continues negotiations with district officials, which began in the spring. The two sides hope to avoid a strike, but aren't certain if that will be possible.
Time is slipping away and it seems that neither representatives from the Joint Faculty Association nor those from Bremen School District 228 are willing to back down.
The two sides continue to negotiate a potential new contract agreement—a process that began in March. Teachers from all of the District's schools flooded Tuesday night's D228 Board of Education meeting, filling every seat and turning it into a standing-room-only event. Each teacher wore red, a sign of unity that JFA President Kathleen McNeeley said made a point.
“Our mantra for this year is 'United We Stand,'” McNeeley said. “We are standing for education and what is right.”
The Bremen School District is comprised of four high schools serving more than 5,000 students in Midlothian, Posen, Tinley Park, Markham, Hazel Crest,Country Club Hills and Oak Forest. It has 613 full- and part-time employees, according to its website.
McNeeley said the two sides are meeting this Thursday with a federal mediator to try to reach an agreement before the teachers potentially strike. Both she and Schools Superintendent Bill Kendall declined to specify on the sticking points of the contract.
McNeeley did say, however, that should the upcoming meeting go poorly, the teachers will vote on whether to make their move, even though it could hurt the community.
“(A strike) is horrible for the community, it's horrible for the administration, it's horrible for everyone,” she said.
She noted that the teachers' main goal is to reach an agreement that is, “fair and equitable for everyone.” On the District's part, Kendall says progress has been made but there is still work to be done.
“We are making progress, there's a lot of issues on the table,” he said. “We are making progress at times, but other issues come up along the way. It's a fluid process. But again, we're working together to do what's best for everyone, especially our students and the taxpayers.”
Kendall added that he hasn't begun to worry about if the teachers will strike or not, because he hopes to continue moving toward a resolution and not a work stoppage.
“We're willing to work through this as much as we can,” Kendall said. “ ... I'm focused on a positive settlement. I'll start working on a plan on Friday. Right now, we're focused on getting this thing settled.”
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