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Union: Tonight’s talks crucial

Teachers say it’s time for board to make a move

Published: Monday, Feb. 25, 2013 1:15 a.m. CDT

DIXON – Teachers are calling tonight’s negotiations critical.

Superintendent Michael Juenger said the Dixon School Board will have a response to a new offer the Dixon Education Association made on Thursday.

Sandi Sodergren-Baar, union president, said the board promised something back tonight when the two sides meet behind closed doors.

Wednesday, the day teachers can call a potential strike, looms, and the union is saying it’s the board’s move. (Turns out the state Education Labor Relations Board didn’t post the offer as soon as was thought, which is why the strike cannot be called Tuesday, as previously reported.)

Teachers were disappointed the board did not have anything to bring to the negotiating table last week.

“The DEA is hoping that the board approaches (tonight’s) meeting as being a very serious one,” said Dolph Ricks, union negotiator and teacher at Reagan Middle School. “It’s their turn to give a counterproposal to everything that’s on the table. The DEA has bargained in good faith during the whole negotiation process.”

Ricks noted the school board has not made any changes to its financial package since November. A federal mediator was called into negotiations in December.

In its last published offer, the teachers asked for a 4-percent pay increase and more staff; they made another offer Thursday, but have not released the details.

The board is asking teachers to take a pay freeze, which teachers say will amount to a 24-percent pay cut for the average certified staff member.

Specifically, the board asked teachers to work more and pay more in health insurance. Family insurance coverage is expected to rise by about $7,400 under the board’s proposal, Ricks said.

Teachers also are asking for more staff to better accommodate special education students.

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