State says Central District 104 teachers can't strike yet

News-DemocratFebruary 7, 2014 

The teacher union at Central School District 104 in O'Fallon can't strike until more notices are filed with the Illinois Educational Labor Relations Board, according to the board's attorney, John Brosnan.

Earlier this week, St. Clair County Regional Superintendent Susan Sarfaty said the union could strike as early as Feb. 13 because her office received its intent-to-strike notice on Feb. 3.

However, Brosnan said the teacher union must also file a notice of impasse and a notice of final offers with the Illinois Educational Labor Relations Board before it can officially strike. The board received the notice of intent to strike from the District 104 teacher union on Feb. 5.

Sarfaty said neither the notice of impasse nor a notice of final offers are filed with her office. "I am not aware if they got filed or not," she said.

The notice of final offers would lay out the teachers' demands, as well as the school board's counter-offer. A notice of impasse simply states the two sides can't reach an agreement.

Brosnan said the union has yet to file either of the notices, which must be on public display on the educational labor relations board's website -- http://www2.illinois.gov/elrb -- for 14 days.

The soonest the union could strike is March 6 or 7 -- if the board received the other notices this week, according to Brosnan. "We have to post it within seven days of receiving it," he said.

It's approximately a 28-day time period between when all the documentation is received and when a teacher union can officially strike, Brosnan said.

Aviva Bowen, spokeswoman for the Illinois Federation of Teachers, said the other notices have not been filed yet, and negotiations are ongoing.

District 104 Superintendent John Bute said he couldn't comment on ongoing negotiations and directed all questions to the district's attorney, Garrett Hoerner, who could not be reached for comment.

Parent Hailey Edwards, a member of the district's Parent Teacher Organization, plans to present a petition in support of the teachers and staff members at the school board meeting Monday night. The board meets at 7 p.m. at the district office, 303 Hartman Lane in O'Fallon.

"The petition is to show we acknowledge them as educators and agree that they need contracts in order to continue being the educators we and our children know and love," Edwards said.

More information about the petition is available at http://www.ipetitions.com/petition/take-care-of-our-central-school-teachers-and-give. As of Friday, the petition had 161 electronic signatures.

The district's current teacher contract expired Aug. 31, and negotiations for the new contract began July 10. A federal mediator was brought in to assist with negotiations late last year.

The new contract would impact 44 teachers and 26 support staff members. The support staff voted to join the teacher union last school year.

The district encompasses two schools -- Central Elementary and Joseph Arthur Middle School -- and serves approximately 585 students.

Contact reporter Jamie Forsythe at 239-2562 or jforsythe1@bnd.com.

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