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Unit 4 contract negotiations

Latest: 4:27 pm, 9/19/13, Thursday CHAMPAIGN -- Unit 4 teachers are turning up the heat.
Latest: 4:27 pm, 9/19/13, Thursday
CHAMPAIGN -- Unit 4 teachers are turning up the heat. Thursday they gave the district official notice. If they don't have a new contract within a month, they're clocking out.

They're preparing for the worst. They're giving the district 28 days to make an offer they'd accept. If they don't, they're out.

Wednesday night, 97% of 500 teachers voted in favor of a strike. The union wants better working conditions and pay.

The district says the union's request would put it in financial jeopardy. It's something union officials say came out of the blue. District leaders were unavailable for comment.

Both sides will meet for a bargaining session Wednesday. Each hopes to reach a resolution, but if not, teachers say they're ready to pull the plug.
Update: 8:58 pm, 9/18/13, Wednesday
CHAMPAIGN -- Five hundred Unit 4 teachers met Wednesday to make an important decision in an effort to make the school board hear them loud and clear. Teachers have been working without a contract so they met to vote on the worst-case scenario.

Wednesday's vote was for a strike authorization to let the union know if they would support a strike. 97% voted for it.

Teachers wouldn't go into specifics of what they're asking for in their contract but it has to do with raises, working conditions and salaries. They said they have done an analysis of the district's finances and it can afford to give them more.

District leaders say the proposed increase would put programs, staffing and opportunities for students at risk, and they are disappointed and surprised to hear about a strike vote. Champaign Federation of Teachers President Cathy Mannen said they shouldn't be surprised.

"We did tell them at the bargaining table, when we met on September 10, that we did intend to go to the membership for a strike authorization vote, so it had been discussed."

Unit 4 maintains Champaign teachers are among the highest paid in the area and they are going to remain fully committed to reach an agreement which benefits everyone involved.

There are a lot of legal steps which have to be taken before a strike happens including a 28-day process. Teachers will not walk out immediately, but if an agreement isn't met soon, a strike could be on the horizon.
Original: 5:09 pm, 9/18/13, Wednesday
CHAMPAIGN -- Unit 4 teachers are discussing contract negotiations with district leaders. Teachers are currently working without one.

Union members are looking at issues and the district's financial status. They're also considering the possibility of a strike.
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