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Grayslake teachers vote for walkout

Updated: December 16, 2012 1:35AM

GRAYSLAKE — Elementary teachers in Grayslake District 46 joined what appears to be a growing parade of unionized educators in Lake County who are willing to hit the picket line.

Members of the Grayslake Federation of Teachers on Monday voted overwhelmingly to reject a “last, best” offer submitted by the School Board last week when it declared an impasse during federal mediation.

According to Lake County Federation of Teachers representative Jim Pergander, a Tuesday count showed that 320 of the union’s 327 members voted on the matter. The tally was 317 in rejection of the board’s offer and three in-favor. The majority also voted to authorize a strike, if necessary.

“This doesn’t mean we’re planning to go out on strike,” Pergander said. “It is our intention to try to get this settled and we hope to meet with the board in the near future to get this settled.”

The board’s offer includes a one-year “hard freeze” on salary and a reduction in a flex benefit, according to Pergander, who said teachers hired before 2005 have the option to “give up” their health insurance and receive a “monetary amount” instead.

“The board wants to cut that in half,” said Pergander, who suggested that “schools board are playing by the same playbook.”

Under the board’s last, best offer, teachers would also earn less under a retirement benefit that now allows a 6 percent wage increase in lieu of other increases, in each of the four years before retirement. The board’s proposal calls for a reduction to 5 percent and three years. Another sticking point is extra duty, Pergander said.

The union has also submitted a last-best offer, a requirement of both sides before a strike can be called, under a 2011 education reform law. Both offers are to be posted online by the Illinois Educational Labor Relations Board.

“We’re basically asking for inflation,” Pergander said.

The district could not be reached for comment late Tuesday.

Other Lake County teacher unions this year have taken strike votes at Lake Forest High School District 115, which struck for a week in September; Deerfield elementary District 104, where a contract was signed in May; and North Shore elementary District 112 in Highland Park, where a strike was called on Tuesday, Oct. 16.

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