Teachers Have Ratified Contract! It’s our turn, H86SSA!

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Hinsdale District 86 reaches tentative four-year agreement with teachers
Offices for Hinsdale High School District 86
Offices for Hinsdale High School District 86. (Pioneer Press / Chicago Tribune)
Kimberly FornekContact Reporter
Pioneer Press
Hinsdale High School District 86 has reached an agreement with its teachers union.

The District 86 School Board is expected to vote Sept. 6 on the proposed four-year contract, that would cost the district a total of $199.7 million.

The negotiating teams from the district and the Hinsdale High School Teachers Association reached a tentative agreement July 29, said Superintendent Bruce Law.

Law said officials of the association told him Aug. 17 that its members had ratified the agreement, which would be retroactive to July 1.

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The tentative agreement gives teachers and all certified staff a raise of 0.8 percent this year, no raise next school year, and raises based on 0.75 percent of the consumer price index in the following two years. The agreement specifies the annual raise in the last two years will be at least 1 percent, but no more than 2 percent.

Hinsdale District 86 to post teachers’ contract before vote
Hinsdale District 86 to post teachers’ contract before vote
In addition to those raises, teachers typically receive more pay for more years on the job and for advanced degrees.

A starting teacher in District 86 with a bachelor’s degree typically gets an increase of about $2,000 each year. In the new contract, however, union members agreed to waive that raise, called a step increase, this school year.

Beginning with the 2017-18 school year, however, a teacher with a bachelor’s degree will get a step increase of about $2,000 a year, and a teacher’s with a master’s degree will get a step increase of about $3,000 a year.

School board member Jennifer Planson, who was a member of District 86’s negotiating team, said their over-arching goal for the negotiation was to ensure the sustainability and long-term health of the district.

“We believe we have accomplished that with this agreement,” Planson said.

The district expects to control its insurance expenses by limiting its share of future increases in insurance premiums to no more than 4 percent.

The district also wants to limit how long it contributes toward retirees’ health insurance premiums. Employees who retire under the new 2016-2020 contract will receive a district contribution toward their health insurance for 10 years or until they become Medicare eligible, whichever occurs first.

“We are getting out of the insurance business,” said board President Kay Gallo.

One goal the school board had that was not achieved was to phase out end-of-career salary boosts.

Some school districts have been giving teachers annual raises of up to 6 percent for each of the last four years they work, once they announce when they plan to retire.

District 86 reduced the annual increase to 3 percent in its last two-year contract with the teachers’ association. Board members said they wanted to eliminate that perk entirely.

“We tried lots of different ways,” Planson said. But the end-of-career raises were “a big bargaining issue for them.”

Retiring teachers will continue to receive 3 percent raises in each of the last four years they work, under the new contract. Teachers’ pensions are based on the average of the four highest consecutive salaries they earned in the last 10 years they worked.

At least 375 district employees are covered by the union contract, said Dominica Maniscalco, District 86’s chief human resources officer.

According to the district calculations, under the agreement, the total amount of salaries and benefits this school year would be $48.3 million, which would be $1.9 million, or 4.1 percent, more than last school year.

In the next three years of the proposed contract, total compensation would increase 1.4, 2.9 and 3.2 percent to a total of $51,984,709 in the 2019-20 school year.

The school board debated Aug. 1, three days after reaching the agreement, what information should be posted online before the board’s vote on the proposed contract. The board finalized that decision at a meeting Aug. 15. At neither meeting did district officials reveal that a tentative agreement had been reached, because the teachers had not yet ratified it, Planson said.

“Its one of those precarious situations,” she said. “A lot can happen between a handshake across the table and ratification.”

If the union members did not ratify the agreement, “you’re back at square one,” Planson said.

The resolution the board adopted to publish labor contracts at least 48 hours before the board is scheduled to vote on them, said state laws regarding collective bargaining obligate the school board to support tentative agreements its bargaining team negotiated, because the team was authorized to act on behalf of the board.

Superintendent Law said it’s his understanding, under current law, the board is obligated to vote in favor of the agreement.

Despite that opinion, board member Edward Corcoran said he will not vote for the agreement. He opposes subsidizing retired employees’ health insurance and said the district’s contribution to current employees’ health insurance is too generous. The agreement also does not include the workplace reforms for which Corcoran has advocated, such as eliminating the two preparation periods physical education and drivers education teachers are allocated.

They don’t have homework to grade, like teachers of other subjects, Corcoran said.

A copy of the agreement and other documentation is available on the district website at d86.hinsdale86.org/Page/892.

kfornek@pioneerlocal.com

Twitter @kfDoings

Copyright © 2016, Chicago Tribune

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