Prospect Heights teachers charge unfair bargaining.

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Prospect Heights teacher union president Bob Miller. Photo credit: Fred Klonsky

There was bargaining last night in Prospect Heights between the Prospect Heights Education Association and the board. The main proposal coming from the board was that the teachers should go back to work without a contract for a cooling off period.

I talked with PHEA President Bob Miller and many of the teachers who were on the picket line.

They didn’t seem to need any cooling off.

They needed a contract.

Miller said, “We have had students out of the classroom more days than this board has been willing to meet and bargain.”

In a statement following last night’s bargaining the PHEA reacted to the cooling off proposal. “A cooling off period is not a solution to the problem.  It is delaying coming to a resolution.  There was some progress made tonight. Both sides will be back at the bargaining table at 6:00 on Monday, September 21.”

These are the salary proposals currently on the table:
PHEA: 2015-16   4.5%       2016-17   4.39%  2017-18   4.0%

Board of Education: 3.25% for wage earners under $90,720, 1.75% for wage earners over $90,720, for the life of the contract.

There is currently no salary schedule with step increases for years of service.

Prospect Heights teachers out for a third day. Board paid for air conditioning with teacher salaries.

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I will be driving out to the northwest suburbs today to support my IEA sisters and brothers who are on strike in Prospect Heights.

Unlike Wednesday night when the board slammed the doors on teachers and refused to bargain, there was bargaining last night.

No agreement was reached.

Standard union contracts have salary schedules with pay steps.

But not Prospect Heights. And the Prospect Heights Education Association is asking for one. Unlike many jobs in the private sector, teachers who want to remain teachers in the classroom rather than becoming administrators receive no “promotion.” They can only improve their earnings moving up a salary schedule by earning additional degrees, educational credit and years on the job.

The Tribune is reporting that money in the Prospect Heights District 23 education fund, money that is specifically earmarked for teacher salaries, was spent on air conditioning.

Teachers were dismayed when the school board voted earlier this year to transfer $800,000 from the district’s education fund to help pay for more than $10 million in capital improvements to the district’s aging buildings, projects which included new air conditioning, heating and school security systems at each of the district’s four schools.

“They sold $10 million in bonds for the project, but they mis-budgeted and had to take $800,000 from the ed fund,” (president of the Prospect Heights Education Association, Bob) Miller said.

Messages of support can be sent to the PHEA 23PHEA@gmail.com

Teachers on strike in Prospect Heights.

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“There were 151 out of 152 members walking the line this morning,” a teacher told me.

Members of the Prospect Heights Education Association, an NEA/IEA affiliate, are on strike.

“Members are staying strong and united but the board is refusing to meet,” I was told.

As a result parents are faced with their kids losing instructional time. There are 1,500 students enrolled in Prospect Heights District 23.

Teachers in PHEA have never been forced to strike before.

The issue is salary.

Union representatives tell me that they are only $150,000 apart. But with the board refusing to schedule another bargaining session, it is hard to see how students will be back in the classroom before the weekend.

The PHEA web site can be found here.

Members of our Skokie Organization of Retired Educators (S.O.R.E.), IEA Retired, will be doing strike support  on the picket lines on Friday at 10AM.

We are meeting at 700 North Schoenbeck Road in Prospect Heights.

All retired teachers should feel free to join us.