Only one more meeting between the Hinsdale High School Teachers Association and Dist. 86 school board -- June 26 -- is scheduled before Hinsdale Central and South teachers’ current contract expires on the last day of the month.
The teachers’ association sent out an email blast over the weekend “Correcting the Record” before the Dist. 86 school board’s scheduled meeting Monday night.
Mike Palmquist, an English teacher at Central and spokesman for the teachers’ association, called recent comments made by D86 board president Richard Skoda “divisive and misleading.”
The teachers’ association’s communique also included timeline detailing their requests and efforts to meet with the board and negotiate a new contract beginning last September.
Skoda compared the current union, whose members voted overwhelmingly to authorize a strike in the fall if a new contract cannot be hammered out, to Karen Lewis and the Chicago Teachers Union.
According to public statements attributed to Skoda, the board maintains that the teachers’ association has proposed a 5.45 percent salary increase in the first year “for D86 teachers earning an average annual salary of $110,000.”
The teachers’ association claims that the new board majority -- including Skoda, Victor Casini, Ed Corcoran and Claudia Manley -- “ has delayed meeting, cancelled meetings, and presented incomplete proposals on several occasions.”
Most recently, the teachers say, district board members cancelled the afternoon session with a federal mediator after meeting in the morning on June 10.
“We are disappointed that these practices continue with the cancellation of the first afternoon mediation session followed by Skoda's misleading public statements,” Palmquist proclaimed. “The teachers' association continues to negotiate in good faith despite these practices by the new board majority, eventually requesting mediation to try to come to an agreement.”
According to the teachers’ timeline, the union requested to meet immediately with the school board in September 2013.
At the first meeting of Joint Negotiating Committee on Nov. 12, 2013, the school board requests time to hire an attorney, according to the teachers’ timeline.
The school board canceled a January 2014 meeting due to an attorney’s illness. The teachers’ February timeline details further cancellations by the district bargaining team representations, claiming they weren’t ready.
The Joint Negotiating Committee exchanges proposals and holds focus groups in March to decide upon language in March.
In April, teachers maintain that the school board gives them an incomplete proposal, after the board announces that it has hired its own insurance consultant to review the teachers’ benefits plan.
“Teachers cannot respond to board’s proposal because insurance and compensation beyond
year one are unknown,” the teachers’ association’s timeline says.
The teachers’ association also claims that school board members cancelled a mediation sessions scheduled for April 29, and that May sessions were cancelled as the negotiating team waited for a mediator to be assigned.
Following a negotiating session on May 27, teachers voted overwhelmingly to authorize a strike, unleashing a fury of public statements attributed to Dist. 86 school board president, Richard Skoda.
Skoda said the strike authorization vote gave teachers an unfair added edge in negotiations, not unlike the Chicago public school teachers’ strike in fall 2012.
In a letter published in the Hinsdale Doings, a supporter of the teachers’ association accused the board of setting a combative tone with the zero tax levy.
“Now they can take their self-inflicted empty pockets to the teacher’s contract negotiations,” Clarendon Hills resident Paul Pedersen said.
Similar letters of support for the Hinsdale High School Teachers’ Association pop up in other local press.
Meanwhile, the teachers’ association is hoping for the best as the clock ticks.
“The teachers look forward to the mediation session scheduled for June 26. We are making every effort to ensure that contract negotiations can be settled quickly and fairly to both sides,” .Palmquist says.
The Dist. 86 school board meets at 7 p.m. Monday, June 16, in the Little Theater at Hinsdale South High School, 7401 S. Clarendon Road, Darien.
It also appears that a special board meeting has been scheduled for 7 p.m. Tuesday, June 17, in the community room at Hinsdale Central High School, 5500 S Grant Street, Hinsdale.