GENEVA – Geneva School District 304 filed a counterclaim of unfair labor practice against the teachers union while defending itself from the union’s claim that it engaged in unfair labor practices.
Both claims stem from contentious contract talks between the district and Geneva Education Association in the weeks leading up to settling a contract last month.
In papers filed with the Illinois Education Labor Relations Board, the district charged that the teachers union engaged in bad faith bargaining when its representatives agreed to withdraw its unfair labor practice claim when the contract was ratified.
According to emails between the district’s attorneys and Illinois Education Association attorneys, the union’s attorney expected the claim to be dismissed, but the charge still stands; the union would not support a dismissal.
“The GEA’s refusal to dismiss the unfair labor practice charge upon ratification of the agreement constitutes bad faith bargaining in violation” of the Illinois Education Labor Relations Act, according to the district’s complaint. “The [school] board’s vote to ratify [the contract] on Nov. 20 constituted acceptance of the GEA’s offer to voluntarily withdraw the charge … [it] is a term of the final agreement between the board and the GEA.”
In a separate filing, the district defended itself from the union’s charge that it tried to coerce employees who were exercising their guaranteed rights “and engaged in bad faith bargaining by announcing a unilateral change to the process for paying employees insurance premiums in the event employees participated in a work stoppage.”
The district seeks to have the charge dismissed.
In its defense, the district’s filing states its email to teachers was to inform them of the status of their benefits and salaries during a strike – not to coerce them into opposing a strike. The district’s filing stated it should not be required to finance a strike by providing salary and other benefits.
The teachers union did not make a case that “denial of insurance benefits during a work stoppage had an adverse effect on employee rights,” according to the district’s response. “There is no contractual provision in the expired contract for handling health insurance benefits during a strike.”