Champaign Teachers to Take Strike Vote
By Jeff Bossert
The union representing more than 800 teachers in the Champaign School District plans to take a vote to authorize a strike. The union is in the middle of contract negotiations with the school district.
The Champaign Federation of Teachers said its bargaining team met this week with a federal mediator, and failed to reach an agreement after two hours of negotiating.
Union President Cathy Mannen said the date of the strike vote hasn’t been set. She said the vote only means the union can strike, not that it will.
Mannen said her members are hoping for a contract that includes better pay and improved working conditions.
“We’d like to settle," she said. "We’d like to have a contract that is fair, and we’d like to have a contract that is respectful of the work that teachers have to do on a daily basis.”
Unit 4 teachers have been working without a contract since June 30. Bargaining started on April 4, and the two sides have been meeting with a federal mediator since Aug. 14.
School administrators released a statement, saying they are surprised and disappointed to learn of the union’s decision to authorize the strike vote.
"In our last two sessions, the district has twice modified its salary proposals, and these offers are above a step increase and exceed the increase in the cost of living," the statement said. "We firmly believe that the issues on the table can be resolved through collective bargaining. We value and respect our faculty and staff and want to work with the CFT to come to a successful conclusion to these negotiations."
A call seeking comment from the Champaign School Board President was not immediately returned.