Teachers In Geneva Go On Strike After Walking Out Of Contract Negotiations

Bernie Tafoya
December 04, 2018 - 9:37 am

WBBM Newsradio/Bernie Tafoya

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CHICAGO (WBBM NEWSRADIO) -- Teachers in west suburban Geneva went on strike Tuesday morning after contract talks broke down overnight. 

More than 5,800 students are enrolled at Geneva School District 304’s 10 schools. The district said it has 450 teachers and other staffers who are part of the teachers' bargaining unit.

Kevin Gannon, president of the Geneva Education Association (the teachers' union) and a 30-year science teacher at Geneva High School said the school board is proposing a new salary system that the union believes could wind up paying experienced teachers less than their counterparts elsewhere in Kane County.  He fears Geneva could lose good teachers to other districts, as a result.

"Our compensation is too important to experiment with," he said.

Currently, Geneva teachers' pay is based on the "step and lane" system in which teachers' pay is based on their years of experience in the classroom, as well as how many educational degrees they have.

Gannon believes once the pay hurdle is overcome, other issues will be resolved more quickly. Those issues include insurance, extra-curricular stipend, summer school and curriculum writing.

District 304 sids it wants to fairly and competitively compensate teachers, but to do so within the district’s means. 

No new contract talks are scheduled. Gannon said teachers are ready to return to the table whenever the school board is ready.

He said this is the first time teachers have gone on strike in Geneva District 304.

WBBM Newsradio/Bernie Tafoya

The District 304 school board released a statement, announcing the cancellation of classes and the teacher strike:

Geneva 304 Teachers on Strike - No Classes on Tuesday, Dec. 4

After more than 7-½ hours of negotiations starting at 6:00 p.m. on Monday evening and continuing until 1:30 a.m. this morning, the Geneva Education Association (GEA), the union that represents our approximately 450 teachers, walked out of negotiations and called for a strike. As a result, schools will be closed today, Tuesday, Dec. 4.  

The Board of Education is grateful for the many calls and emails urging both parties to resolve their differences and to put the needs of our students first by reaching agreement on a fair and fiscally responsible multi-year contract that compensates our teachers fairly and competitively for their work, while operating within the financial means of the District and advancing the best interests of all District 304 stakeholders, including our students, parents and community.

At this time, no additional negotiating sessions have been scheduled. We will continue to provide daily email updates to allow our families to plan accordingly to ensure that our students are safe and productive during this unfortunate disruption to their education.