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District 46 teachers set to take strike vote

Teacher union talks

Teacher union talks in Lake County have reached impasse in Grayslake elementary and in three other districts in 2012 — in Lake Forest, Deerfield and Highland Park. In Lake Forest High School District 115, the impasse led to a seven-day strike in September. In Highland Park, teachers approved a strike in a vote taken Sept. 28. In Deerfield, a new four-year contract was signed in May.

Updated: December 11, 2012 2:02AM

Elementary school teachers in Grayslake could authorize a strike vote as early as Monday, after federal mediation stalled this week.

According to Jim Pergander, a representative for the Lake County Federation of Teachers, district officials declared an impasse and presented their “last, best” offer on Tuesday during a third session with a mediator. District 46 Superintendent Ellen Correll did not return a call seeking comment.

Members of the Grayslake Federation of Teachers, who number about 300, will meet after school on Monday, Pergander said, to discuss their next move.

“We’ll be playing it by ear,” Pergander said. “We’ll listen to our membership and see where they want to go.”

Contract talks began last spring, with the impasse coming after about a dozen negotiating sessions. The most recent four-year contract expired in June.

“We’ve been successful with the board on non-economic issues,” Pergander said. “But on the economic issues, there’s been no movement at all for the most part.”

Pergander on Thursday declined to outline particulars of the union’s contract proposal, but said sticking points include salary and benefits. The district has “moved on givebacks,” he said, referring to benefits it had sought to end, and he pointed to the union’s past responsiveness to a weak economy and the district’s financial concerns. In 2008, the union added a year with a lower increase — 2.75 percent — extending an already signed three-year contract to four years.

The union will post their last, best offer in a few days, Pergander said.

Under a 2011 education reform law, unions and school boards must attempt mediation and both sides must disclose their last, best offer before a strike can be called.

“Even though we’re at an impasse, even though we’re positing our last, best offers, in every session, even now, it is our hope to reach an agreement,” Pergander said.

No new mediation sessions had been scheduled as of Thursday.

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