Teachers and school district reach agreement

Published 10/22 2012 10:12PM

Updated 10/23 2012 11:15AM

Latest: 10:21 pm, 10/22/12, Monday
CHAMPAIGN -- Teachers in Unit 4 are working under a new contract. It was approved during Monday night's board meeting.

Under the new one-year contract, teachers will receive a pay raise of 1.4% and 100% of health insurance will be covered by the district. The district will continue current retirement contributions, but only until the end of this school year.

Finally, there will be a new evaluation process which meets state law regulations.

Latest: 4:41 pm, 10/16/12, Tuesday

CHAMPAIGN -- Unit 4 School District and the teachers' union have tentatively agreed to a contract. After months of negotiations, it's a step in the right direction for teachers.

For parents, it's a relief. Some were worried. A few weeks ago, the teachers' union threatened to strike if an agreement wasn't reached. Parents say they didn't want that to happen.

The district and the union sealed the deal Monday afternoon. Both sides were finally able to agree on pay. That had been a big stumbling block in negotiations.

Some parents say it's been nerve-wracking. They say they didn't want teachers to strike because they realize how important teachers are. They want them to feel like they're being treated fairly.

The next step is a ratification vote. The teachers' union says it's still looking for a place to do that.

Once it's passed, the school board will vote on it at its next board meeting. Until then, neither side is releasing any details of the contract.

Update: 10:30 pm, 10/15/12, Monday
CHAMPAIGN -- The teachers' union and Unit 4 School District reached a tentative agreement on a new contract Monday afternoon. Both sides have agreed on a tentative contract.

It took nearly four months and several bargaining sessions to reach this point, but a meeting Monday afternoon helped the seal the deal. A negotiation session was originally scheduled for after Monday's school board meeting. But instead both sides met beforehand. It was during those few hours that both sides finally ended up on the same page.

"We have a lot of great faculty in Unit 4 and we have a very hard working board," said school board president Sue Grey, "but at the end of the day we found a resolution and that's awesome."

It didn't even take until the end of the day. The Champaign Federation of Teachers and the school board hashed out a new contract just hours before a scheduled bargaining meeting. The final sticking point both sides agreed on involved teachers' salaries.

"I feel like we have something to take to our members that is fair, which was our goal; to get a contract that was fair for our teachers," said union president Cathy Mannen.

"We feel great. It was a lot of hard work and we had terrific discussion tonight and I'm really pleased with the way things turned out," added Grey.

She says trying to schedule negotiations over summer break made the process difficult. But things really heated up once classes started. The teachers' union held an informational picket last month demanding a fair contract. A few weeks later, they voted in favor of striking if necessary.

"The CFT negotiations team really felt the support of our membership behind us and that we were getting continual feedback from them," Mannen said.

"Neither of us wanted it I think to come down to a strike," said Grey, "We're committed to our students and to their academic success and so we were both very hard at work to make sure that didn't happen."

Neither side will release details until the contract gets final approval. The teachers' union will schedule a ratification meeting as soon as possible. If members approve the contract, it will then go before the school board for a vote.

Original: 7:15 pm, 10/15/12, Monday
CHAMPAIGN -- The teachers' union and school district reached a tentative agreement on a new contract Monday afternoon. A negotiation session was originally scheduled for after Monday's school board meeting, but both sides met beforehand.

Union president Cathy Mannen and school board president Sue Grey wouldn't explain the contract's details until it's officially approved. The teachers' union will hold a ratification meeting soon.

If the contract is ratified, it will then go before the school board for a vote. Unit 4 teachers have been working without a contract since June 30. They held an information picket outside a school board meeting last month to remind the public they were still without a contract. A few weeks later, the union voted in favor of a strike if one was needed.

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