Archived Story

Niles teachers unwilling to take pay cut

Published 7:48pm Monday, May 7, 2012

Zero.

That’s the percent cut in pay the Niles teachers’ union is asking for, according to their latest contract offer made to the school board Monday.

The school board’s attorney, Eric Delaporte, called the teachers’ latest offer “disheartening.” He said the offer would cost the district roughly $280,000 more each year than if the district would continue to operate under the status quo.

The board was proposing teachers take roughly an 8 percent cut in pay with hard caps on insurance.

“The crux of it is, we are starting from very, very different places,” Delaporte said. “My sense is that in seeking to balance your budget, it is just not something they are willing to deal with at this time.”

Jon Harmon, the chief spokesperson for the Niles teachers’ union, isn’t buying Delaporte’s assessment.

“I am still reviewing their numbers because I don’t think those numbers are necessarily accurate,” he said. “I am just surprised the board wants to bargain in the public. I don’t think it benefits either side to be bargaining in the public like this.”

The sides conducted their 28th bargaining session Monday during a negotiation process that has been ongoing for more than a year.

Delaporte believes Monday’s mediation session will be the last for a while.

“I think there was a general agreement among the parties that we had reached the point where further mediation, at least prior to fact finding, would not be productive,” he said.

Delaporte said fact-finding could begin as early as this month. In fact finding, an impartial person would review proposals from both sides and come up with his or her own solution. It would be non-binding, meaning neither side would have to accept the fact-finder’s solution.

Harmon said he is hopeful to reach a settlement prior to fact-finding.

Supporters of the teachers’ union say the board is asking teachers to take too large a cut, while the board argues it is necessary to solve the district’s structural deficit problem.

According to district budget projections, the district will go into deficit sometime in the 2013-14 school year if nothing changes. Supporters of the teachers’ union argue the board is exaggerating the state of the district’s financial situation.

“We keep on asserting every year they have more revenue than they do expenditures, so I guess I am not sure where that structural deficit exists,” Harmon said.

Budget projections by the district show the district will spend $1.19 million more than it brings in by the end of this school year based on the status quo. The district is projected to spend $1.06 million more than it brings in during the 2012-13 school year. That deficit increases to $3.05 million during the 2013-14 school year.

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