GENEVA – Geneva School District 304 teachers could strike by the end of the month after union members voted to authorize a strike.
The earliest a strike could occur would be October 31. The Geneva Education Association also called for the most recent offers exchanged between the GEA and the District 304 Board of Education to be posted publicly after the most recent round of negotiations failed to produce a tentative agreement.
GEA members voted overwhelmingly on Sept. 30 to authorize a strike, according to a news release from the GEA. Contract talks began on Feb. 15 and the union's 459 teachers started the school year without a contract.
The last four negotiations have been aided by a mediator from the Federal Mediation and Conciliation Service, the release stated.
“From the very beginning of these negotiations our association has maintained a commitment to reach an agreement that puts the district’s 5,800 students first; promotes a high quality education; is fair for the teachers; and is fiscally responsible to the community of Geneva,” Kevin Gannon, president of the GEA, said in the release. “We have been working to find common ground with the school board. We know the district has the financial ability to pay our teachers wages that are competitive with other districts of our caliber.”
The association’s call for public posting is a legal requirement under which both the GEA and the Board of Education are required to submit their offers to the Illinois Educational Labor Relations Board for public posting, according to the release. In 14 days, the labor board will post both offers on its web site if a tentative agreement has not been reached, the release stated.
“A strike is the last thing we want and we are continuing to do everything in our power to avoid that possibility,” Gannon said. “The GEA is simply trying to attract and retain quality teachers to serve our students and maintain the standard of excellence we now provide to the students in Geneva. Under the school board’s proposals, Geneva teachers will continue to lag behind nearby districts in salaries and the gap will continue to grow. We do not want to keep losing our newer colleagues to neighboring districts.”
The next mediation session is currently scheduled for Oct. 23.