ONIEDA – Today the ROWVA Support Education Association (RSEA), which represents hourly employees of the district, filed for impasse with the Illinois Education Labor Relations Board (IELRB). RSEA members are currently working without a contract and have been negotiating with the ROWVA School District 208 since July.
“We were really hoping we could come to a deal and that it wouldn’t come to this, but here we are,” said RSEA Chief Negotiator Laura Danner. “This is about what’s best for our students and honoring the work we do every day to make sure they have access to a high-quality education.”
RSEA represents two dozen bus drivers, classroom aides, cooks, kitchen staff, custodians and secretaries. In each of the last four years, the wages for RSEA members have increased by less than a quarter per hour each year.
“We make so little money. Many of us have second jobs just to make ends meet,” Danner said. “We love our students and we love what we do. That’s what keeps us coming back each day.”
RSEA and District 208 have been working with a federal mediator since October. In February, a conceptual agreement was reached and the RSEA membership voted in favor of the agreement. However, the board recently said it is no longer willing to pay back wages from the start of the contract. The board wants to fund salary increases beginning only from January 2020.
“That means the board is eliminating almost half of any raise we hoped to receive in the first year of our new contract,” Danner said. “We live here and we work here. We care about these kids. Investing in us is an investment in our community. We don’t understand why the board is suddenly reluctant to provide the wages that will keep quality employees in the district.”
The next ROWVA School Board meeting is Mon., March 16. The meeting starts at 7 p.m. at ROWVA High School (346 Rova Dr., Oneida). The next mediation session between RSEA and the ROWVA School Board is set for March 23.
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.