CHICAGO (CBS) — A major development in a suburban teachers strike. Negotiations for Sunday are moving up.
Nearly 6,000 students are out of class in west suburban Geneva. Teachers in that city organized the rally believing that the school board wasn’t planning to resume contract talks until Sunday. But on Wednesday afternoon, a surprise: the board moved up its timetable.
“Actually, we have a negotiating session set for Thursday night,” said Mark Grosso, District 304 School Board President.
“I would say the community pressure and the unity of our membership are the two things that the board is responding to and has prompted this willingness to meet,” said Kevin Gannon, President of the Geneva Teachers Union.
Whatever the reason, it means talks can continue over the biggest issue: the board’s demand to alter the pay schedule, increasing pay for new hires.
“It makes it very difficult to attract new teachers to the district when starting salaries are lower,” Grosso said.
But the union said the proposal also reduces pay hikes for veteran teachers.
“We’ll attract them, that’s for sure,” Gannon said. “But the question is are we going to keep them?”
Still, many students just encouraged both sides are acting with renewed urgency.
“It shows they’re actually trying to figure this out so we can come back to school sooner,” said Geneva High School student Ella Demaray.
The contract expired for the teachers union in August. Talks began in February and the strike is quite unexpected. It’s the first in Geneva, according to the union, in anyone’s memory.