The Commercial-News, Danville, IL

February 27, 2013

State rules against separation

BY CAROL ROEHM
Commercial-News

DANVILLE — A ruling from the Illinois Educational Labor Relations Board will change the way Danville School District 118’s teacher and secretaries’ contracts are negotiated.

Last week, the labor board ruled in favor of the Danville Education Association. It had filed a petition Aug. 1 to merge the bargaining units for the teachers and teaching assistants and for secretaries and learning resource clerks into one unit.

The union had been seeking to bargain the two contracts — one for teachers and teaching assistants and the other for secretaries and learning resource clerks — concurrently, as it had done in the past. District 118 board members, however, wanted to create two separate negotiating teams to negotiate the contracts separately.

“This is a big win for us,” DEA President Robin Twidwell said.

The DEA membership still needs to vote on merging the bargaining units and negotiating the contracts concurrently.

Both sides are scheduled to meet with a federal mediator on Monday afternoon and again on Thursday.

In recent months, little progress had been made on the new contracts. The current contracts, which cover a total of 449 certified employees and 206 non-certified employees, expired June 30.

In January, both sides formed a joint insurance task force subcommittee to study insurance options for a month after tackling the part of the district’s contract proposal that asked employees to start making contributions toward their insurance coverage.

According to a presentation given during a DEA membership meeting Dec. 18, the district’s proposed changes to employee insurance would require staff to contribute $300 a month for a single PPO coverage, $600 a month for an employee with one dependent, $650 a month for an employee and two dependents and $675 a month for an employee and three or more dependents.

For HMO insurance coverage, single employees would have to contribute $100 a month, $400 a month for an employee with one dependent, $425 a month for an employee and two dependents and $450 a month for an employee and three or more dependents.

The DEA claims the impact of the insurance changes amounts to a $3,600 a year contribution from employees for PPO single coverage, which works out to be between a 5 percent and 25 percent decrease in pay for staff members, depending on job title and coverage option.

The DEA points out that if 607 of its members contribute toward their insurance, it would amount to $2.07 million in savings to the district, but the union questions what that money would be used for.

Also at the Dec. 18 meeting, the DEA told its membership that the district’s proposal — which besides asking for employee contributions toward insurance coverage, includes a longer work day and 15 extra work days per school year while freezing salaries at the 2011-2012 level — is unacceptable.