No progress, but many accusations, in Hinsdale District 86 contract negotiations

hinsdale district 86 strike
Teachers outside Hinsdale South High School in a file photo | Kimberly Fornek/Sun-Times Media

The opposite sides in the Hinsdale High School District 86 contract negotiations were not at a loss for words following their most recent meeting Tuesday.

John Bowman, president of the Hinsdale High School Teachers Association, said the School Board negotiating team made an offer that would cost its members more for health care than the board’s previous offer.

“It’s regressive bargaining,” Bowman said in a prepared statement. “We are moving towards them and they are moving away from us.”

“We’ve already said we will start the school year on time and that we do not want to go on strike,” Bowman said. “We would like for the board to actually bargain with us instead of making offers that are worse than the ones we’ve already discussed.”

In its own news release, the board reported the teachers’ union “irresponsibly ignore(d)” its request to agree not to strike in return for the board promising not to lock out the teachers, librarians, guidance counselors and social workers represented by the association.

“The board is most disappointed that the union did not seize this opportunity to alleviate the unnecessary anxiety in our community, which unfortunately is most devastating on our students,” the board negotiating team stated.

Association spokesman Michael Palmquist said the board representatives gave his members one hour to accept the proposal.

“They made a one-hour proposal, take it or leave it,” Palmquist said.

The association needed more time to consult with its attorneys and discuss the proposal, but were not allowed any more time than the hour, Palmquist said.

Palmquist said the board offered no other changes to the financial terms of its proposal than to increase teacher health care costs.

The sides did agree to some changes in the language and wording of the contract, Palmquist said.

School Board President Richard Skoda could not immediately be reached to confirm what terms the board offered Tuesday.

Bruce Davidson, who ran unsuccessfully for the District 86 Board in 2011 and was aligned with those who now make up the board majority, implored the board to consider a lockout at the July 21 School Board meeting, suggesting the teachers’ union might use its strike authorization in bargaining to call a strike homecoming week.

While Skoda and board member Edward Corcoran have described the offers the board made to the union, and what they say have been the union’s counter offers, Palmquist has said the association was not going to negotiate in public. The association said the federal mediator who is attending the negotiations asked that the details not be aired.

Palmquist claimed he has honored that request “by not revealing all the details we are talking about at the table.”

However, Palmquist said, the teachers want to respond to the community, who is asking, “Why is this (contract) not done?”

The negotiating teams are scheduled to meet again Aug. 12.

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