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Geneva teachers take strike vote

GenevHigh School GenevIllinois.

Geneva High School, Geneva, Illinois.

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Updated: October 18, 2012 6:41PM

GENEVA – While the Geneva School Board was preparing its final contract offer to the Geneva Education Association Wednesday, teachers were voting to strike.

But while the vote was “overwhelming,” according to a press release from the teachers union, GEA President Carol Young said a strike “is the last thing the Geneva teachers want to do.”

“We have been working without a contract since Aug. 15 and have taken this vote because of the school board’s failure to offer a fair and equitable agreement that will attract and retain quality teachers,” said Young.

Last week, the teachers declared contract talks at an impasse, although meetings with a federal mediator continue. Both Young, in the press release, and Kim Lee, a math teacher on the association negotiating team, said the teachers intend to attend a mediation meeting Oct. 23, and to keep negotiating.

Lee spoke to the School Board Wednesday night before it went into closed session to consider its best and final offer to the teachers, which must be submitted to the Illinois Labor Relations Board by Friday. The teachers also must submit their final offer.

“The association is committed to reaching a settlement with the school board,” the association’s press release said. “The negotiating team will be meeting with the Board of Education team … and will continue to press for progress in contract negotiations.”

The teachers did not set a strike date.

At Wednesday’s special meeting, the School Board unanimously approved the final offer to be extended to the GEA. In a released Thursday morning, the board cautioned that “final” is a statutory term used within the context of state law. It is not intended to indicate an unwillingness on the part of the board to continue negotiations, the release said.

At Wednesday night’s meeting, citizens backing both sides alternately urged the board to pay the teachers on a more competitive scale, and to keep to a pay freeze to hold down property taxes.

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