BOURBONNAIS – After nearly a year of negotiations, the Bourbonnais Education Association (BEA) and Bourbonnais Elementary School District 53 (BESD53) Board of Education (BOE) will sit down later tonight for one final bargaining session in an effort to keep teachers in schools.
Bourbonnais teachers have been working without a contract since August and are firm on a two-year contract offer proposed by the BEA bargaining team that they say will cost some $27,000 less than a recent offer proposed by the BOE. BOE offered teachers raises starting at $1,200 over the course of a five-year period that would increase to $1,600 annually in the latest offer.
“We’ve done the math here. The board needs to say, ‘Yes to less.’ This is a win-win-win. Taxpayers save money, teachers will see their wages increase and we can avoid a strike. It’s a no brainer,” BEA President Lauren Lundmark said.
A poll conducted Tuesday afternoon continued to show unison among union members, backing the proposal.
“The beauty of it is in two years, we will have the opportunity to re-assess the fiscal health of the district and make any necessary adjustments versus being locked into a five-year deal during such a tumultuous economic time,” Lundmark said. “Our members are saying, ‘This is a good start.’ The board needs to take the deal and avoid a strike. There’s really no reason not to.”
BESD53’s 167 teachers and other service professionals can go on strike without notice, at anytime. The Union has already held two informational pickets on the ongoing contract negotiations including one outdoors in freezing conditions this January. Bourbonnais teachers have been working without a contract since August and continued supporting the district during a pandemic.
“We are really hopeful the board will do the right thing,” Lundmark said. “We can end this right now, if they’ll just say, ‘Yes.’”
Tonight’s meeting is scheduled for 5:30 pm.