Special ed teachers, union reach tentative agreement, strike avoided

2013-02-22T14:30:00Z 2013-02-22T22:50:11Z Special ed teachers, union reach tentative agreement, strike avoidedDavid P. Funk Times Correspondent nwitimes.com
February 22, 2013 2:30 pm  • 

LANSING | Officials from the Exceptional Children Have Opportunities Joint Agreement and the Illinois Education Association reached a tentative collective bargaining agreement this week, avoiding a strike by special education teachers previously slated for March 6. The agreement is pending the approval of the boards of both organizations.

The compromise was made official at the final scheduled mediation at 11:30 p.m. Wednesday. ECHO Executive Director Debra Hooks said details on the agreement won't be made public until after the organization's board of directors has a chance to review it.

The IEA board is scheduled to address ratifying the agreement at a meeting on March 11, while ECHO's board is expected to give final review and approval on March 12, according to a letter posted by Hooks to the ECHO website.

ECHO, which represents special education teachers from 17 school districts in the south suburbs, agreed to a 2 percent salary increase but took issue with health insurance and retirement changes in a public announcement posted to it's website Wednesday afternoon.

ECHO members demonstrated outside the Lansing Elementary District 158 School Board meeting Wednesday evening.

The previous five-year agreement expired on June 30, and ECHO teachers have been working without a contract since. Negotiations with the IEA began March 7 and in November a federal mediator was brought in. An impasse was declared Feb. 6 and ECHO filed a statement of intent to strike.

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