BOURBONNAIS – The Bourbonnais Education Association (BEA) will be hosting a virtual picket this afternoon at 4:15 p.m. The picket was originally supposed to be outside but was moved online because of dangerously cold temperatures.
“We are so grateful to work in such a wonderful community that continues to support us during this very difficult time. We are hoping all that support will encourage the board to come to an agreement on a fair contract,” BEA President Lauren Lundmark said. “We don’t want to go on strike. We’d much rather be in our classrooms with our students than out on the picket line.”
BEA could go on strike as early as Fri., Feb. 19. There are several issues that still need to be resolved at the bargaining table, including common planning time for educators, competitive compensation for teachers, maintaining health and retirement benefits and returning to a step-and-lane salary structure.
“We are in the middle of a teacher shortage. Teachers are retiring early or leaving the profession entirely because of the pandemic. We need to make sure we are doing everything we can to attract and retain high quality staff so we can continue to provide the best education possible for our students,” said Lundmark.
The BEA’s most recent proposal included a salary increase of 12 percent over the next three years. The board’s proposal included a salary proposal that would cause some educators to make less money under the new contract than they do right now.
BEA represents 167 teachers, speech pathologists, psychologists and social workers who serve more than 2400 students. The district and BEA began contract negotiations in March. BEA is currently working without a contract and has been since the beginning of the school year. The next bargaining session is tonight at 5:30 p.m.
To join the virtual picket, BEA is requesting its supporters wear red and take a picture with a sign showing support for BEA, or to record a video detailing their support for BEA. Those who participate are then encouraged to post the pictures and video to social media at 4:15 p.m. today with the hashtag #BEAforstudents.
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.