Kishwaukee College faculty members voted down a contract proposal from school administrators today after a two-hour meeting.
The union representing faculty characterized the contract offer as “not a good-faith effort at a compromise.” The school called this proposal its “last, best offer.” The union will present its counter-proposal to the administration following winter break. They've been working without a contract since August.
Releases from both sides in the contract dispute
Click here to read Kishwaukee College's summary of its "last, best offer," as sent to news outlets Tuesday, December 16th.
The following was sent to news outlets Friday, December 19th by the Illinois Federation of Teachers, representing the Kishwaukee College Education Association:
MALTA, IL – Today, the Kishwaukee College Education Association (KCEA) voted down the College’s “last, best offer” unanimously during a heated two-hour membership meeting. Members expressed frustration over the proposal that does not reflect a good-faith effort at a compromise between the two sides. Although raises were included in the offer, other benefits would be slashed to the point that the raises do not offer any real gains – and some sizable losses -- for the dedicated faculty. KCEA’s bargaining team will use the winter break to write its own counter-proposal.
“We aren’t asking for the world in this contract, but we are asking to keep the benefits that help retain our talented faculty along with modest raises,” said KCEA President and math teacher Matt Read. “We’ve accepted a lower base salary than comparable colleges as a trade-off for other benefits that we feel help retain talented, veteran educators. When the administration takes away health and retirement benefits that we’ve had for the past 25 years and then claims teachers are being offered substantial raises, it shows a total lack of respect for our teachers. This would be like changing a grading scale the day before report cards are issued and demanding our students accept their lowered grades.”
This is the second time the faculty union voted down a proposal from management that did not reflect discussions at the bargaining table. In August, the two sides agreed to a tentative agreement and before the ink was dry, Kishwaukee College administrators changed some key language from the agreement before KCEA membership had a chance to vote. The changes were so severe that the faculty voted it down overwhelmingly, setting back the negotiations process weeks.
“We’re frustrated, and we know that our students and the community want this to end just as much as we do,” said Jennifer Jossendal, KCEA negotiator and history teacher. “The College understands that the students trust the faculty, which is probably why they threatened to have us arrested when we distributed information about negotiations to our students. We want an open and transparent process, but the College prefers pushing its half-truths in the form of sound bites to the media. Both sides agreed to negotiate in good faith -- face-to-face -- and not in the media, but the administration has shown once again that its word is not worth much. As the administration plays games, they push us closer to a potential strike.”
Despite the fact members of the Kishwaukee College faculty earn between $5,000 and $15,000 below their peers in pay, these educators offer students a world-class education in their backyards. The faculty includes a Jeopardy champion, a published award-winning author, and scores of educators who go above and beyond every day for the students they serve. The administration risks pushing out these outstanding educators through the games it plays at the negotiating table. Students choose Kishwaukee College for a unique education experience.
The Kishwaukee College Education Association (KCEA) represents 81 educators at Kishwaukee College. The KCEA is affiliated with the Illinois Federation of Teachers and the American Federation of Teachers.