NAPERVILLE, Ill. - With one week to go before classes are set to start in Naperville, a teacher strike continues to loom.
Naperville teachers have voted overwhelmingly to authorize a strike an have said they will hit the picket line on the first day of school if they don’t get a satisfactory agreement.
However, Naperville District 203 calls the union’s strike notice illegal because of the timing.
"Given the difficult circumstances for our community throughout the COVID-19 pandemic we are disappointed that NUEA would plan to delay the return to school while negotiations continue," reads a statement on the District 203 website.
"It is very common in other school districts for teachers to return to the classroom without disruption after a contract has expired in that case teachers continue to receive pay and benefits during that time in accordance with the terms of expired contract."
The Naperville Unit Education Association, which represents 1,500 teachers Pre K-12, is scheduled to meet with the District 203 Board of Education at 10:30 a.m. Friday as time runs out on reaching an agreement before the Aug. 19 start of classes.
The main issues are family and parental leave and compensation.
"With respect to parental leave, the NUEA asks that their members be allowed to use their accumulated sick days for the full 12 weeks to which they are entitled under the Family and Medical Leave Act," NUEA president Dan Iversen said in a statement. "Currently members are only allowed to use their sick days for the first six weeks of FMLA, and they are not allowed to use their accumulated sick days to cover the remaining six weeks. This means that NUEA members who wish to be at home with their children for the duration of their federally provided leave must take up to six weeks of that leave completely unpaid."
But the District 203 statement says the union is "regressing on it’s proposal to use 35 sick days post childbirth for child bonding purposes. In its most recent proposal, the union has increased it’s demand to 60 days post childbirth for child bonding purposes."
"I know these are stressful times and that some of you might be disappointed in this news. This vote does nothing to undermine our desire to be ready to meet and teach your students on the first day of school," Iverson said to students and families of District 203.
With one week before the start of school both sides are vowing to continue negotiations as parents question whether they will hammer out an agreement in time for the start of classes.