North Shore 112 teachers, negotiators guardedly optimistic
Indian Trail School staff members Josh Funke (center) and Karen Grost picket outside the North Shore School District 112 offices during a one-day strike on Oct. 16. | Ryan Pagelow~Sun-Times Media
Updated: October 17, 2012 7:12AM
HIGHLAND PARK — Negotiators for both the North Shore School District Board of Education and the teachers’ unions are expressing optimism heading into strike talks Tuesday. However, both sides are putting the responsibility on the other for producing the offer that breaks the stalemate.
Teachers in the district, based in Highland Park, called a strike early Tuesday after a seven-hour negotiating session Monday failed to produce a contract settlement.
School Board President Bruce Hyman voiced hope the North Shore Education Association would provide a new counteroffer for board negotiators to review. Union President Pamela Kramer expressed dismay that the School Board had not come through with an offer that would be ratified by membership. The North Shore Education Association represents more than 400 teachers in the school system, which serves about 4,300 pupils in Highland Park, Highwood and Fort Sheridan.
“The current offer by the board would cause North Shore School District 112 to fall behind 18 other Lake County districts,” said Kramer. Nonetheless, ”The (union) remains hopeful that the contract negotiations can be settled quickly so that the strike is short-lived.”
All schools in the district are closed today with the exception of three facilities that will serve as activity centers for children whose families pre-registered last week.
“While the board is disappointed that our teachers are on strike, today is a new day and a new opportunity to make progress,” said Hyman, who expressed gratitude to the government agencies and nonprofit organizations that have stepped up to provide alternative programs for children during the strike.
Meanwhile, the Illinois Education Association announced early Tuesday that it had filed a charge of unfair labor practices with the Illinois Educational Labor Relations Board.
The unfair labor charge, filed Monday, alleges that the School Board has bargained in bad faith and has inaccurately portrayed the union’s proposals with the intention of undercutting the union’s credibility with the public and the teachers that it represents.
The union contends the district posted a chart on its website that made it appear the union was proposing an increase in retirement benefits when, in fact, the union had offered to decrease those benefits.
The grievance says the district has cut off insurance benefits to teachers during the strike, but refused to provide information to the union about the premiums paid by teachers and the time periods covered by those premiums.
“The NSEA believes that as state law was recently amended to require more transparency in collective bargaining, the school district had a duty to accurately reflect the proposals if it chooses to reveal them,” said Mark Stein, a representative of the Illinois Education Association.
Andi Rosen, communications specialist for the district, said Tuesday the district has not been served with the grievance so is unable to comment at this time.