Updated: May 14, 4:45 p.m.
The Naperville Unit Education Association has filed an unfair labor practice complaint against in response to a salary dispute in the current union contract, according to a news release from the district.
The unfair labor practice that the complaint relates to involves a group of approximately 107 full-time employees at the district whose number of years of service in the district exceeds the number of steps on the salary schedule, according to the District's news release.
In the previous contract reached in 2007, the employees in the group who were off the step schedule were given special raises, which carried through to the 2009-10 contract year, according the district’s news release. The district said the information was detailed and noted in the contract.
Mark Bailey, president of the Naperville Unit Education Association, said in a phone call Saturday that the complaint was filed May 9 because the union disputes the freeze on teacher’s salaries.
The complaint was filed “because we were given information that the school board decided to freeze some of our members,” Bailey said. “We agreed to a one year freeze [for some of the teachers], but then we agreed to have a modest increase for the next year and then a modest increase the year after that.”
The contract negotiations for the current contract ended in March 2010, Bailey said.
According to a news release from the NUEA, issued late Saturday afternoon, the Association claims that a spreadsheet indicating a pay freeze for the teachers was supplied to the union's bargaining team before the start of formal negotiations, but the pay freeze was never formally presented by the district to the Association. And, the union also said that the 2007 language did not implement any type of pay freeze.
"The District’s recommended pay freeze for the 107 teachers was never discussed verbally or in writing during actual negotiations," the Association's news release said. "Furthermore, the pay freeze for the 107 was never indicated on the tentative agreement, which was signed by both parties."
An unfair labor practices claim may take 12-18 months for resolution, according to the NUEA news release. An independent investigation will be launched and the Labor Relations Board will hold a hearing on the merits of the case. Following the hearing, the Labor Relations Board will render its final decision.
“This is the appropriate means of dispute resolution if the Union believes the Board has committed an unfair labor practice,” Mark Mitrovich, superintendent for district 203 said in the District's news release. “This allows a neutral, third party to adjudicate the disagreement. The concern will be resolved and we will move forward from here.”
When negotiations began for the current contract, the district claims it provided the necessary documentation including the current salary schedule, including the note referencing the group of employees who fell outside the step schedule, the district said in the news release. Negotiations took place with full representation on both sides and a signed contract was reached.
Bailey said that is where the dispute comes in, that the raises were negotiated in the prior contract and those salaries became the base for the next contract.
“We never agreed to a freeze,” Bailey said in a phone interview. “That is why we filed, they are unilaterally freezing salaries.”
In the Association's news release Bailey said, "We are not asking the District for a penny more than they agreed to during negotiations. We have no documentation or records indicating that we agreed upon or even discussed a pay freeze for the 107 teachers. When we left the table, we clearly understood that all teachers were to be treated the same.”
School Board President Mike Jaensch said in the district’s release, “We thought the issue was clear in the 2007 negotiations, and we clearly addressed it in the materials passed to the NUEA at the beginning of these negotiations. When there was no objection or questions from the NUEA, we had no reason to believe they disagreed.”
The association regrets that the District’s position has forced the NUEA to take action, Bailey said in the Association's news release. "But we are looking forward to an independent review of our case so that we can put this issue behind us and continue the great work that we have started."
Mitrovich said the process must run its course and though contract disputes are not easy to deal with in the end will be resolved “in a way that both parties can understand and accept.”
Bailey said he was surprised that the district had sent out a news release on Saturday morning.
“All we are asking them to do is to honor the contract,” Bailey said.