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Unit 4 bargaining talks

Latest: 10:04 pm, 9/27/13, Friday CHAMPAIGN -- With a strike looming, parents are getting a first-hand look at what teachers are fighting for.
Latest: 10:04 pm, 9/27/13, Friday
CHAMPAIGN -- With a strike looming, parents are getting a first-hand look at what teachers are fighting for. Contract proposals were released Thursday from both the teachers' union and the district.

The biggest issue is salary. Teachers are asking for a one-year contract with 3.65% increase. The district is offering a three-year contract with a 1.3% increase each year.

A parent, who is also a PTA co-president, says teachers are underpaid for the time and effort they put in.

There will be another mediation meeting October 7. If a settlement isn't reached, teachers could strike as early as October 18.
Latest: 10:50 pm, 9/26/13, Thursday
CHAMPAIGN -- From salaries to evaluations, Unit 4 teachers and the district can not agree on a contract. Inching closer to a strike, the district and teachers' union put everything on the table Thursday. Both sides telling a very different story.

A new law provides access to contract offers from both sides, and Thursday, they held news conferences. The district released its contract proposal to the public. It's a silent, but strong sign, they are standing firm in these negotiations.

Board members did not say much at their news conference, but they didn't have to say anything. The 37-page document on their website says everything. It outlines the issues holding up the process: salaries, changes to administrative leave and teaching time.

"Because of sacrifices teachers have made, I think the right thing to do is to share some of that good fortune with the people that are on the front lines every day," said union spokesperson Dave Comerford.

Teachers want a 3.7% salary increase, on top of the usual 1.7% step increase, totaling 5.35% more money in one year. The board says its offer of 1.3% over three years is enough.

"The board believes that the final agreement should represent all stakeholders including the 72% that taxpayers contribute to the district's total revenue," said board president Laurie Bonnett. "This has been demonstrated by the existing benefits package, as well as its continued effort to offer raises at a time when others are cutting back."

Board members say other things make up for the salary, like the fact that teachers' health insurance is covered 100%. They also have a $25,000 insurance policy. But teachers say they are just asking for the money they gave to help the district get back in the black.

Comerford said, "Not a long term commitment, but a recognition of the sacrifices. They have plenty of cash to do that."

There will be another mediation meeting October 7. If a settlement is not reached, teachers could strike as early as October 18.
Latest: 5:01 pm, 9/26/13, Thursday
CHAMPAIGN -- For the first time ever, parents are getting an inside look at contract negotiations between the school district and teachers' union. The biggest issue which can't be agreed upon is salary.

Teachers are asking for a one-year contract with a 3.65% increase. The district is offering a three-year contract with a 1.3% increase.

Both sides were in a closed door meeting Wednesday night for seven hours. The district argues it doesn't have the money, but union leaders say the district has almost $24-million in surplus funds and enough money to make 15-new hires this year.

Teachers are also asking to be able to fight their evaluations. They're asking the district to be able to write a letter to the joint committee if they feel their evaluations are incomplete or inaccurate.

There will be another mediation meeting October 7. If a settlement isn't reached, teachers could strike as early as October 18.
Update: 6:00 am, 9/26/13, Thursday
CHAMPAIGN -- Champaign's Teachers' Union and Unit 4 School Board failed to reach a compromise Wednesday night in contract negotiations. Both sides met behind closed doors for more than six hours. By law, both sides are now required to file their most recent contract offer.

The district and the union will have to turn that in to the Illinois Educational Labor Relations Board by the end of Thursday. By next Friday, those offers will be publicly posted to the web. After the offers have been publicized for 2 weeks, teachers can legally strike.
 
Original: 10:01 pm, 9/25/13, Wednesday
CHAMPAIGN -- Unit 4 and the teachers union are going on 6 hours of bargaining. If the district doesn't reach an agreement, all of what they're bargaining for will posted for the public to see online for 14 days.

If an agreement isn't met in that time, the teachers say they plan to strike. They want better pay and working conditions. Parents just want it all to be over.

"It disrupts the school year and takes away from the whole curriculum and the school year. Students like being out of school but they got to realize they're going back further into the summer if that happens," parent Dan Swartz said.

The district says the teachers are among the highest paid in the area and it would hurt student programs if it was increased.
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