Federal mediator requested

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CHAMPAIGN, Ill. (WCIA) — The Champaign Federation of Teachers met with the Unit 4 Administration and Board of Education for 5 ½ hours Friday night before ending the meeting to request a federal mediator. 

Bargaining between the two sides began in May. This was the seventh session. The contract expired June 30, 2018.

Some of the union’s proposals include class size limits, home visits and student safety. The union represents more than 850 certified teachers in the district.

The district released a statement late Tuesday night:

Since the start of negotiations with the Champaign Federation of Teachers (CFT) in June, we have had very productive discussions and reached agreement on a number of items that will benefit both students and teachers. Unfortunately, we are a bit further away on compensation than we hoped.

In anticipation of new legislation which imposes penalties on school districts when teachers’ compensation increases by more than 3% in their last few years before retirement, the Board of Education offered CFT a complete package proposal (which included a salary offer above the anticipated 3% cap) for a new three-year contract at our second bargaining session on June 1. This offer was subsequently enhanced and another complete, three-year package proposal was offered to CFT on June 4.  CFT rejected both these offers.

Since these rejections, the Board has further discussed and analyzed the 3% issue extensively and prepared a range of options for addressing it in a way that’s both fair to teachers and fiscally responsible. The Board has also explored some added complications that have arisen due to a federal lawsuit filed against a neighboring district earlier this month. Our current offer has been thoughtfully constructed to address both the 3% issue and avoid a similar suit; CFT’s current proposal makes penalties more likely. 

Although there are only a few items that remain unresolved at this point, near the end of Friday’s session, CFT requested that we bring in a mediator to help us finalize a new contract. The Board agreed to do so and looks forward to approving an agreement that honors the work of our teachers while ensuring we avoid legal and financial challenges moving forward.

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