Danville school board files complaint against teachers' union

DANVILLE — The Danville school board has filed an unfair labor practice complaint against the Danville Education Association in an effort to force the association to come to the bargaining table.

Since the two sides exchanged proposals on April 13, the board has offered 19 potential meeting dates, representatives said at meeting with media on Friday. But, they said, the DEA has all but refused to meet, which they see as a possible tactic to get the board to change how it's negotiating a contract for teachers and teaching assistants and separate contract for secretaries and learning resource clerks.

As a result, teams negotiating the teacher/teaching assistant contract met only once in late May and did not address any contract issues. And teams negotiating the other contract haven't met at all.

"We've been disappointed and somewhat frustrated with not being able to make any progress," said Danville attorney Jerry Davis, the board's chief negotiator for the teacher/teaching assistant contract, who filed the complaint with the Illinois Education Labor Relations Board on Thursday. "Normally by this time, we would have made substantial progress but we've been faced with delay."

"We feel it's time" to move forward, Superintendent Mark Denman said, pointing out the start of the new school year is only two weeks away.

"We have many serious and complex issues to discuss and we can't address them unless we sit down and negotiate," Denman continued, adding the district's financial challenges, including a decrease in revenue and yet another year of uncertainty in state and local funding, are bound to make that more difficult. Earlier, he announced that the district's proposed $66.1 million budget for the 2012-13 fiscal year is projected to have a $2.43 million shortfall.

However, DEA officials denied they are stalling talks and, instead, accused the board of doing that.

"That's what we've wanted to do all along — bargain," President Robin Twidwell said, adding the association has been willing to schedule sessions, but the board has refused to have its two teams meet on the same days. "We want to start having conversations on how we can get this contract settled, which is in the best interest of our students and staff."

The association represents about 630 employees. Its two contracts, which were settled in September 2010 following a three-day strike, expired on June 30.

Historically, the board and association each have had one negotiating team, and the two teams have bargained both contracts. But this year, the board decided it would have two teams that would bargain each contract separately — which has been a bone of contention with the union since they learned about it back in April.

In fact, the DEA filed its own unfair labor practice complaint with the state in June, accusing the board of negotiating in bad faith because it refused to provide a reason for the change.

"We want them to be open and transparent," Twidwell said.

On Friday, Davis said the reason is simply the same reason the state Education Labor Relations Board ruled more than 20 years ago when secretaries and learning-recourse clerks joined the DEA that the certified staff and non-certified staff should have separate contracts; the two groups' interests and work issues were significantly different.

"The (school) board has some very valid reasons for having separate teams and negotiating the contracts independently," Davis continued, adding this teachers' contract will address lengthening the school day from seven hours to eight, changes in evaluations, tenure and pension, among other things.

Those issues don't affect secretaries and learning-resource clerks, who already work eight-hour days, who aren't eligible to receive tenure and whose pensions are funded through the Illinois Municipal Retirement Fund, said Business and Finance Director Heather McKiernan, the district's chief negotiator for that contract.

"They have a right to have their issues heard," she said.

Twidwell said the board has never explained those reasons to the DEA. She doesn't believe they're logical because "95 percent of the language is the same" in both agreements.

"Our impression is they're trying to break the union," Twidwell said.

Davis called that "an unfounded charge" as the two groups, while represented by one association, operate as two units and under two separate contracts. "There's nothing to split. It's been that way for 20 years."

McKiernan pointed out that it's the same for the custodians and food service workers, both of which are part of the International Union of Operating Engineers Local 399, AFL-CIO. The board is currently negotiating with separate negotiating teams for new contracts for those groups, too.

Despite the frustration, both sides are hoping to come together and resolve the problem so that they can focus on the contract issues.

"We've always had a really cooperative relationship between the DEA and the district," said board President Bill Dobbles, a retired teacher, who has been involved in negotiations on both sides for more than 40 years. "I think it's time we get back to that cooperative spirit. Clearly, these are not going to be easy negotiations. But I believe we can come to some type of resolution that will be favorable to both sides."

Comments

News-Gazette.com embraces discussion of both community and world issues. We welcome you to contribute your ideas, opinions and comments, but we ask that you avoid personal attacks, vulgarity and hate speech. We reserve the right to remove any comment at our discretion, and we will block repeat offenders' accounts. To post comments, you must first be a registered user, and your username will appear with any comment you post. Happy posting.

Login or register to post comments

davidemcginn wrote on August 10, 2012 at 3:08 pm

Once again the teachers union holds the average joe hostage, they are no better then terrorist they wait until the school year is ready to start then threaten to go on strike if their demands are not met. I say fire them if they don't go back to work and hire someone that doesn't mind working 8 hrs a day like everyone else. No wonder kids cann't read or write look at who they have showing them how to.

sameeker wrote on August 10, 2012 at 4:08 pm

I have a job for you under terms that I dictate. If you don't take it, we all know how committed you are to breaking unions when it comes to your paycheck.

MrRight61820 wrote on August 10, 2012 at 5:08 pm

Perhaps you should see a teacher about your writing skills. 

 

Regarding the hours in a teacher's day, I think the Danville teachers should agree to an eight hour school day only if their pay increases or they are allowed to log every hour worked beyond that time and receive overtime for the grading, planning, parent contacts, and other work that happens outside of the contractual hours.

kachoirace wrote on August 10, 2012 at 5:08 pm

As a teacher, I appreciate your comments.  Too often, we are the scapegoats when parents fail to take responsibility for their children's readiness for school and their ongoing support.  To those that quickly complain about teachers not earning their pay, please drive around your local school and see the number of teachers already hard at work preparing classrooms and planning for another school year, even though we officially have two to three weeks of summer vacation left.  There is no pay for any of this time that we generously give for the benefit of our students.  We will also, make sure your sons and daughters have all the supplies they need, even if you fail to send the requested supplies. Of course, this is also, paid for out of our own pockets.  It is very easy to throw negatives when you really don't understand all that our jobs entail.  I love my job and working with your child is a priviledge. Please, be a partner with your child's teacher and I guarantee your child's success will be way higher than if you leave the education of your child up to only the hours they attend school. Take responsibility! 

killerut wrote on August 14, 2012 at 11:08 am

You are paid for this time.  THat's why you have your paycheck handed out all year long instead of only during the time you work.

If you don't like the tough work or the smaller vacation during the summer, I suggest you pick a different career.

Also, you are NOT scapegoats.  You reap what you sow.

sameeker wrote on August 14, 2012 at 8:08 pm

Teachers are paid for nine months of work. They choose to strech their pay out over a year. They are paid less then industry professionals for the time that they work. When your kids wind up in prison because they didn't have caring teachers and had parents who did not care about their education, you will reap what you have sowed.

killerut wrote on August 16, 2012 at 6:08 pm

Teachers are paid 'very well' for nine months of work.  I know several 118 retirees that were making upwards of 67k for nine months of work.

I make 41k for twelve months of work.  Please explain to me how they are paid less than industry professionals?  In my line of work, salaried exempt, I put no less than 55 hours in per week.

DEAVP wrote on August 11, 2012 at 8:08 am

The DEA has made no mention of a strike. 

buzorro wrote on August 10, 2012 at 11:08 pm

Break the union before they break the property owner.  Yes, I'm well aware of the preparatory work, out of pocket expenses that a teacher has.  Since it's always been this way maybe there should be a class in college that explains all this to students preparing to be teachers.  So do the kids have a legitimate gripe about their homework?  You know, work outside of the classroom?

Yeah, you've got a tough job.  So do I.  Let me ask you this.  What has your union ever done for me?  I know what I've done for you.

Remember too what's lurking in the shadows.  Will your fellow Democrats in the state legislature put the full cost of your pensions on the Districts' property taxpayers?  I'm betting that they do.  This appears to be another strike year for Danville teachers.  Timing's going to be everything.  If our property tax goes up at the same time the teachers go on strike...heh, heh,...well, at least the students will support you.  Can you say l-a-y-o-f-f-s?

Gee, I wonder if the union is helping you or hurting you.

 

 

 

sameeker wrote on August 14, 2012 at 9:08 am

I am still waiting on you to come and work for me under the conditions that you advocate. I didn't expect you to take me up on the offer. You seem to think that it is ok for everybody else to have to live in poverty, even though they have jobs; however, you sing a different tune when it comes to your paycheck.

 

Maybe the teachers should do like the factory workers. When it is time to clock out, no more working for the day. No grading papers at home. No more preparing lesson plans unless they have time to do it at work. No more volunteering to give extra help for students who need it. No more outside training to keep current unless they are on the clock. No more evening parent meeting since the shift ends at 4. If a student is creating a problem, get rid of them like a factory would to someone who is intentionally slowing down production. Be careful what you wish for. You just might get it.

DEAVP wrote on August 11, 2012 at 5:08 am

 

This is a great little piece of fiction that the board has put out. A few months ago the best reason that they could give the DEA as to why they wanted to bargain the contract separately was "They prefer to." Now, all of a sudden, we have all of these unique interests that need to be heard separately.

Also, the comment that McKiernan made "They [secretaries and LRC's] have a right to have their issues heard," is insulting. It implies that any other time that the contracts have been bargained the issues that pertain to that group have been ignored.

Although no one said it, bargaining in this manner could potentially lead to the two contracts have different start and end dates, which I am willing to bet is just another move in this petty chess game that the board is trying to play. Imagine the secretary and LRC contract still being in effect when the teacher/TA contract has expired. In the future that could cause some serious tension in the buildings and, once again, break the union.

Fun facts: the district has spent over $122,000 in the last three years on legal fees. Jerry Davis' hourly rate is $200. Stan Eisenhammer's (the board's lawyer) hourly rate is $265.

The ULP that the board has filed has the potential to go into litigation.

How many tens of thousands of dollars is this district willing to pay to break the union?

When is the school board going to start having the children of this district in their best interest?

When are the school board members going to do the job that they were elected to do?

I would encourage each and every tax payer and voting citizen in this town to call these board members and ask them these questions.

William J. Dobbles
School Board President
(217) 443-3421
(217) 260-5858
bdobbles@comcast.net

Gina McGuire
School Board Vice-President
(217) 260-7520
g_shermcguire@yahoo.com

Randal P. Ashton, DDS
(217) 443-4041
docashton1@aol.com

Steven A. Bragorgos
(217) 442-6931
steven.bragorgos@us.army.mil

Daniel D. Brown
(217) 446-5550
dan.brown@danielbrownlaw.com

Greg Hilleary
(217) 444-3101
(217) 443-1571
ghilleary@hacd-hud.com

Frank R. Young
fry2454@aol.com

 

buzorro wrote on August 11, 2012 at 4:08 pm

Thanks for the info.  I'm going to shoot off some emails right now in support of the Board's action.

Sid Saltfork wrote on August 13, 2012 at 9:08 am

 buzorro;  Do you even live in that school district?  Everytime there is an article mentioning unions; you rant, and rave about your taxes.  Teachers are taxpayers also.  The pay property taxes also.  Without a union, they are at the mercy of "take it, or leave it".  Years ago, school districts hired teachers right out of college on a year's probation.  At the end of the year, they were not hired for the next year.  The school districts just hired another one year probationary teacher; and did the same thing again.  I cannot imagine why young people want to be teachers.  An education graduate today has to wonder about their future pension, living wage, out of pocket expenses, criticism from irresponsible parents, and attacks by the howling mob of "taxpayers".

cadam wrote on August 13, 2012 at 6:08 pm

I am a Danville Taxpayer with children in the school system, and I am with the Board. You need to consider many of the District 118 educators in fact don't live in Danville, and simply work there because it pays the best in the entire area. If we were discussing other school districts and communities with a better economy and/or near term economic prospects, AND wasn't during a major economic crisis, then yes I'd be out there supporting the Teachers. However, two years ago when we went through this before the big argument made from the DEA was the 2.5 Million dollars the District was getting from the Feds.. guess what? it's gone, and now what? Give a raise? With what? Wishes and Hope? now let's toss in the cold reality, people have less money, food costs more, as does fuel. Why should we say the teachers are more important than any one particular sector of the workforce? Because of the children? Using our children as emotional hostages. Maybe Illinois Educators, namely those in Danville, need to look at the example of Federal Employees. Federal Employees haven't had raises in YEARS. Look at the non-profit sector, lay-offs and furloughs. I don't like this negotiator, he appears to have caused more trouble than good. Think of the children, we provide a raise and give in to your demands how will they be better off? Go ahead, go on strike but don't expect any support from the community this time.

 

killerut wrote on August 14, 2012 at 11:08 am

<thumbs up>

Very well stated.

DEAVP wrote on August 15, 2012 at 9:08 pm

Do you all realize that the Danville School board is sitting on a $21 million dollar surplus of "your" money? Money that you and I (as a taxpayer in Danville) payed? Money that I contributed more to by taking consessions on my insureance years ago when the district was in the red. Why?

Danville District #118 has over 180 days (a full school year) of money in the bank when most schools in the area, and state, are sitting on just a handful of days reserve. Why?

Do you understand what that means? Danville School district can function at it's current level without receiving another dime from the state for a complete school year. 

We aren't fighting for a raise. What no one seems to realize is that the board is offering a pay cut to every person in its employ. Within a few short years this district is going to negotiate itself out of being able to employee the quality of teachers that the students in this district deserve. 

And as far as saying that Danville teachers are the best paid in the area, I strongly suggest that you conduct a little research. School district contracts are available online. 

corruptville wrote on August 14, 2012 at 6:08 am
Profile Picture

Oh, please...... All excuses, You don't deserve a raise plain and simple. Our schools and children would be better off if our state would lose the Unions all together. Unions and you teachers that think your entitled to more and more are the problem and the reason our state is in a fiscal crisis. I'm sorry but I work twelve months a year not nine and millions of others do the same. Many of us in the real world work place also provide items for our employers out of our own pay. So what you concider taking care of someone elses child, you should be thankful for, as you could be out of work with no pay at all and forced to join the real world employment force where non-union employees don't demand special treatment, because were happy just to have a job. Millions of us in the private workforce wish we had just a tenth of the benifits you over paid under worked government/state employees have, yet we don't threaten to shut our workplace down! I'm ashamed by our government and our state workers. Our state and local leaders should be reducing pay, stripping these rediculous beniffits such as doing away with the pension system altogether as you/and I should be paying into SS not your pension as this benifit alone is crippling our state and this makes you the problem and a great reason for you to lose your entitlement as we as a state can't afford your bogus pension anymore!

Unions will always continue to errode this nations wealth and prosperity!

Sid Saltfork wrote on August 14, 2012 at 8:08 am

"real world" again?  Why is it that all public service employee haters always use the term "real world"?  What other worlds are there?  They always rant, and rave about jobs they know nothing about.  They complain about the benefits.  Benefits are part of the pay based on employment demand.  Their bosses, and supervisors get more benefits.  It is always some disgrunted employee who cannot, or will not, complain on their job that rants, and raves about public employees.  If they had the skills to get a better job, they would have better benefits also.  Their idea of public employment is slavery.  Hey, if you want a bunch of low paid, less trained, robotic public employees; contract out public services to the corporations.  Otherwise, it is none of your business.  It is between the employer, and the employees.  Oh..... now, the "taxpayer" rant comes into it also.  Well, public employees pay taxes also.  What the state, municipality, or school district does will never appease everyone.  Leave it alone.  Let contract negotiations play out.  It is not a popularity poll.

corruptville wrote on August 14, 2012 at 9:08 pm
Profile Picture

Maybe you can't read we tax payers can't afford to give you more perks. I'm sorry but this state is denieing those whom can't even help themselves life saving medical treatment, and forcing them to do with less, yet you sit here knowing this justify getting more? And name five real good reasons why we tax payers should give you more benifits than those you already have lavished yourself in! Yet those folks whom can't even walk you know the disabled, are going with less and you can't, why? Your entitlements are no more protected than anyone elses is, as we tax payers that are not government workers, well most of us feel were being fleeced to feed your greed, yet the sole purpose of the government is for the people. Being a part of the over all problem our government and state workers should all expect their pay to be adjusted based on proformance, not on inflation that once again applied to state and government workers but those disabled nope theres no such inflation.... Those of us in the real world you know, the  private employemnt sector expect when our job proformance/demands has and have bankrupted our employer, get less not more untill the issues are corrected that caused the fiscal crisis in the first place, you know the tax subsidized or we should say funded pension. Enough Enough already........... 

 Face it you know you don't deserve more while others are getting less.... Being an educator I figured you should already know that when the numbers are already in the red you can't expect grapes from an apple thats broke....

 

Sid Saltfork wrote on August 15, 2012 at 1:08 pm

Your reading is just as bad as your spelling.  As I stated, public employees are "taxpayers" also.  Pensions are not "entitlements"; and they have not been "funded".  Raises are given to the private sector, and the public sector to keep up with inflation.  The Disabled on SSDI, and SSI have not kept up with inflation; but they have received some raises in their Social Security payments along with the Elderly.  Again, you speak of the "real world".  What other worlds are there in your mind?  Maybe, your making it "apples and oranges" rather than "grapes from an apple that's broke..."?  How about knocking off the rants, and raves against public employees, and unions? 

DEAVP wrote on August 15, 2012 at 9:08 pm

Sid... Are you interested in running for the school board in Arpil? We've got four seats that are coming up.

Sid Saltfork wrote on August 16, 2012 at 9:08 am

NO.   All of my line would be spinning in their graves if I ever aspired to politics.  I am not a teacher.  I was a state employee for 40 plus years.  I grew up Blue Collar.  My Father was a Teamster as I was for a while.  With the large number of teachers that taught me from elementary school thru university; I can think of only one, or two who I did not respect.  All of the others helped me take advantage of the education offerred in America.  Education is one of the greatest gifts that any country can offer to it's citizens.  My parents taught me to read, and do basic math before I started school.  Every night; we listened to the news on the radio, or television, and read the newspapers.  I sat on my Father's lap; and read a news article that he selected to improve my geography, pronounciation, grammar, and reading level.  I was on a first name basis with the staff at the local Carnegie library.  My wife, and I did the same with our children.  Sadly, many citizens no longer take advantage of the education offerred to them.  It is ironic that immigrants encourage their children to learn as much as possible in order to move up in America; but third generation, or more, citizens have become lazy in obtaining the great education offerred to them.  I hope that four good candidates come forward; and that they represent the workers. 

killerut wrote on August 14, 2012 at 10:08 am

I grew up in Danville.  Even spent a lot of time at the DEA office as a kid (the old one on Vermillion).  I know many teachers that have retired from 118.

However, I gotta say that I'm with the board on this one.  We all have to tighten our belts these days.

 

Sid Saltfork wrote on August 14, 2012 at 12:08 pm

killerut;  I can respect that opinion.  What I cannot respect is the irrational ranting, and raving comments from the howling mob of public service employee, and union haters.  I understand the concern of belt tightening.  Each of us have our priorities on how the belt needs to be tightened.  As long as we respect, and listen to each other's viewpoint; we can agree most of the time on the priorities.   Rationale discussion with compromise serves everyone better.