Waukegan public schools remained closed Monday as the teachers strike in district 60 continues.
The district put forward a contract counter proposal at the end of Friday's negotiation session. The two sides resumed contract talks this morning.
According to a statement on the district's website, the two-year contract proposal from the school board includes:
- 4% raise in year one and additional 3.25 % raise in year two, to all teachers in Tier 1. Tier 1 includes all teachers in years 1-22 of their careers
- 5.75% raise in year one and a 5.75% raise in year two , to all teachers in Tier 2. Tier 2 includes all teachers in year 23 of their career
- 3.10% raise in year one and an additional 3% raise in year two, to all teachers in Tier 3. Tier 3 includes all teachers with more than 23 years experience
- 100% fully-funded single payer health care in year one and year two
Meanwhile, the school district has been working to resume food service for students during the teachers strike, with the hopes of having lunch available starting Monday. The district, however, is "still awaiting teacher union cooperation" on the food-service plan.
Here's part of the district's statement on the food issue:
Superintendent Dr. Donaldo R. Batiste on Friday reached out to Union leadership and asked if Teachers would agree to avoid picketing at six school sites for two hours each day, so that lunch can be served to students. The sites selected included Carman-Buckner, Clearview, North and Washington elementary, as well as Jack Benny and Daniel Webster middle schools. Each site is in a neighborhood setting, away from major thoroughfares. The proposed programs would have operated similar to the Summer Lunch Program, where students who wish to receive food would arrive at each location and be served in the cafeteria.
Union President, Ms. Kathy Schwarz, was presented with a Memorandum Of Understanding (MOU) on Friday that detailed the specifics of the plan and was asked to sign off on an item that requested the Union agree not to conduct active picketing at the six school sites for two-hours each day. Picketing at those sites would be allowed before and after the two hour window, where lunched would have been served. Picketing at all other sites would not have been affected.
Ms. Schwarz declined to sign the MOU, thus prohibiting the District from beginning its food service on Monday. Ms. Schwarz countered with the following statement: "The Union negotiating team has come up with a suggestion as to how to provide food to our students. The teachers at Carman, Washington Elementary, North, Webster, Clearview, and Benny have graciously offered to pass out the food to the students while they are on the picket line." Ms. Schwarz alternatively suggested serving food at a District site that is not equipped with cafeteria facilities.
Ms. Schwarz was asked to reconsider and was informed that her plan would unnecessarily and indefinitely delay a resumption of food service delivery to our students. The plan Ms. Schwarz proposed fails to comply with federal guidelines. Additionally, it would also violate the contract of the District's Cafeteria Workers Union, which stipulates that that cafeteria employees are responsible for the distribution of food. The District is still waiting for the Union to sign the MOU.
Waukegan Teachers' Council President Kathy Schwarz issued the following statement Sunday regarding food service for students during the strike:
It's truly disappointing to see Dr. Batiste turning what we thought was an honest effort to collaborate on a plan to feed our students into a publicity stunt.
He first called me on Friday at which time I told him that I was working with the Union's bargaining team on our latest proposal and I made it clear to him that I would have more time to discuss a plan in detail during a break in negotiations.
Since then, he and I exchanged emails trying to work towards a consensus. He stopped progress suddenly to issue a statement to the press that mischaracterizes our conversations. In one email, Dr. Batiste claimed he needed two weeks to process the food order and in the District's statement, he claimed food will be ready on Monday.
Why did he act as if he was taking my feedback? Why didn't he approach us two weeks ago? Was the District planning on forcing a prolonged strike? As the people who work in these schools every day, we knew that there were some major flaws in the plan and we should have been consulted to hash out a plan together.
It is also very disturbing that Dr. Batiste would rather send this type of message, instead of a fair and reasonable proposal that could end the strike, allowing us to get back in the classroom with our students.
The teachers' strike in Waukegan began October 2. Read more about the dispute here.