Strikes Possible As Rockford Public Schools Approves Staff Contracts
The Rockford School Board voted to adopt its “last, best and final” contracts for several groups of employees, including bus drivers, food-service workers, and paraprofessionals.
The measures would result in $1.7 million more in spending for bus drivers over the next three years, $178,287 for food service workers over the next two years, and $1.5 million over the next three years for paraprofessionals. This increased spending also means annual raises.
However, the contracts face significant opposition from employee unions, who packed Tuesday night's board meeting. The Rockford Register Star reports some members wanted to hold out for better pay, while others argued that increases in health care premiums would wipe out any raises the contracts provide.
Bus drivers already have voted to strike if necessary, while paraprofessional and food service union members are voting on whether to do so themselves. The school district says it will keep facilities open if these employees decide to walk out.
Negotiations will continue for nutrition services workers at a bargaining session Feb. 13, while a federal mediator is working to set up times for paraprofessionals and bus drivers.