Danville teachers union files complaint against board

Danville teachers union files complaint against board

DANVILLE — The Danville school board and the district's teachers union haven't begun bargaining a new contract yet.

However, the Danville Education Association already has filed a complaint against the board accusing it of bargaining in bad faith — an accusation that board members deny.

"We're not off to a good start," said union President Robin Twidwell, who was hoping to report by now that the two sides had held some productive sessions and were optimistic about reaching a settlement before the start of school.

The complaint was filed with the Illinois Education Labor Relations Board. The matter will go before an arbitrator, who will listen to both sides and recommend how to resolve the issue.

During contract talks, board and association teams actually negotiate two separate contracts for union members, of which there are 633 this year. One is for teachers and teaching assistants, and the other is for secretaries and learning-resource clerks.

The current two-year contracts, which were settled in September 2010 following a three-day teachers' strike, are set to expire on June 30.

Historically, the board and association each have had one negotiating team for both contracts. But this year, the board decided it would have two teams, to bargain each contract separately.

The board has the right to do that, Twidwell acknowledged. She said the complaint stems from the board's reluctance to explain why it's doing that.

"We have asked them why repeatedly, but we've never been given a straight answer. We've only been told, 'That's the way the board wants it,'" she said, adding the union wants to have an open dialogue with the board on all issues this time around.

She argued that the majority of issues in each contract are the same. "It will be considerably more time consuming to bargain them separately because of the redundancy and the sheer volume of language," she said.

Twidwell said her team also asked the board to schedule talks for both contracts on the same days. "Their response was to give us a set of dates for the teachers contract and a completely different set of dates for the secretaries and (clerks') contract," she said, adding union officials can think of one reason the board is "playing this game."

"We've always considered ourselves as one unit. To us, it seems like it's a way to break the union," she said, adding it won't be divided.

Board President Bill Dobbles and Superintendent Mark Denman don't see it that way.

"The school board is bargaining in good faith," said Denman, who isn't on either of the board's negotiating teams. "I think the board is just saying, 'There's two contracts.' They see different issues for each contract."

Dobbles said the board decided to bargain the contracts separately, just as it bargains a contract with custodians and another with food service employees separately. He added the two teams provided two sets of dates because Associate Superintendent Dianna Kirk, Human Resources Director Kathy Houpt and Business Director Heather McKiernan serve on both of the board's teams.

"We've told the DEA that's not a hard-and-fast rule," he said.

Dobbles said he looks forward to resolving the matter. He doesn't see it as setting a bad tone for the rest of the process.

"It doesn't necessarily mean it will be smooth or not smooth," he said. "Eventually we will reach a resolution, and hopefully it will be smooth and amicable, and we'll have a fair contract for both sides."


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buzorro wrote on June 19, 2012 at 12:06 pm

Go ahead teachers, add to my burden, get all you can, because when we go over the cliff you'll want a nice, fat bank account.  Meanwhile I'll be stocking up on the beans and bullets...

sameeker wrote on June 19, 2012 at 1:06 pm

I am still waiting on you to come and work for me for the same wages and working conditions that you think everybody but you should work under. Until you are willing to do that, don't complain about the people who are trying to make a good living.

Sid Saltfork wrote on June 19, 2012 at 8:06 pm

sameeker;  Well said.

buzorro wrote on June 20, 2012 at 10:06 am

These people who are 'trying to make a good living' are being paid with our tax dollars.  Volunteering to pay more taxes, are we?  Are you a government union employer?  If not, then you are missing the point.  What is your opinion on government employee unions?  Give them whatever they want?  Ha...


I work in the private sector and for several years in a row received no pay raises because competitors would have eaten us up.  For all those years, however, government union employees consistently got their wage and benefit package increases...no competitors.  But in the end they will have cut off their noses to spite their face.  When school districts get less money from the State (more of our taxes) they'll have to layoff teachers in order to keep paying the senior ones wage and benefits that they 'won' in previous contracts.


Of course they could raise property taxes to fill the gap.  Is this okay with you?


Bottom line, a system in which the employees consistently get higher wage and benefits than the employer (tax base) cannot and will not last.

mendys wrote on July 08, 2012 at 8:07 pm

Since teaching is so great and easy, why don't all you complainers go and take these easy jobs. Maybe since none of you have worked as a teacher or administrator, like I'm currently, you'd all realize that most teachers quit because the job is demanding, there is no respect, and a lot of energy is required. Still, if it is a gold mine, step up and do the job. My bet is that all the complainers have never been teachers and couldn't do Mark Denman's job.

Also, anyone that thinks property taxes will increase need a fact check. Go to http://www.danville.k12.il.us/Business/audited_financials.htm and read about the budget for the past three years. Anyone with more than one live brain cell will quickly see the district is in better financial shape and predicted to improve because of all the retirements. I know the Board of Miseducation lies that they are horribly in debt, but that is a lie.