MIDLOTHIAN – The members of Bremen High School District 228 Joint Faculty Association (D228-JFA) voted overwhelmingly to authorize a strike. The votes were tallied Thursday evening.
“This is about our students. I think parents would be alarmed to know that recently course sections have been cut and class sizes have been increased, severely harming the students we serve,” D228-JFA President Greg Fitch said. “Meanwhile, D228 has the most administrators per student population in the region. It’s clear the Board is not focusing on what’s best for long term student learning, and we’re willing to fight to change the focus.”
D228-JFA has been working without a contract since July 31 and negotiating with the Bremen Community High School District 228 Board of Education (BOE) since December 2018.
District 228 has four schools, Bremen High School, Hillcrest High School, Oak Forest High School and Tinley Park High School, and serves more than 5,000 students. D228-JFA has 353 members who are teachers, social workers, counselors, nurses, psychologists, librarians and speech and language pathologists.
“We’ve been negotiating for 10 months,” Fitch said. “We need to take steps to ensure we can fight for what’s best for our students. We know that attracting and retaining talented educators is worth fighting for. We have the 13th lowest base salary of the 15 districts in the area. We are in the middle of a statewide teacher shortage that is reaching crisis levels. The district needs to be competitive. It’s what’s best for our students and our community.”
Key issues at the bargaining table are:
- Competitive compensation – Our proposals have included language that would make our salaries competitive with our neighboring districts, helping us attract and retain the best talent. This is more important than ever, given the current teacher shortage crisis.
- Our most recent contract proposal included, on average, a 3.6 percent raise every year for five years.
- Our starting salaries are among the lowest of the 15 high school districts in the area.
- Health insurance – Our health insurance premiums are among the highest when compared to our neighboring school districts. The board is asking for our educators to pay even more to keep their families safe and healthy.
BHSD228-JFA and the BOE have been working with a federal mediator. The fourth mediation session is set for Oct. 9.There will be a rally before mediation, starting at 3:30 p.m. Both events are at Hillcrest High School (17401 Pulaski Rd., Country Club Hills).
The 135,000 member Illinois Education Association (IEA-NEA) is the state’s largest education employee’s organization. IEA represents preK-12 teachers outside of the city of Chicago and education support staff, higher education faculty, retired education employees and students preparing to become teachers, statewide.