GlenEva Dunham, President Gary Teachers Union

Gary teachers and school district miss deadline to sign new contract

Contributed By:The 411 News

Retirement benefits in jeopardy, mediation set to start

Negotiations have turned into mediations for Gary teachers and the Gary school district, having missed the 5pm November 15 deadline to get a signed collective bargaining agreement to the Indiana Education Employment Relations Board.

“We’re at an impasse,” GlenEva Dunham, president of the Gary Teachers Union AFT Local 4, said over the weekend.

Talks began in September with an initial offer from the Gary Community School Corp. of a 1-year contract that stripped away teacher retirement benefits of severance pay and payment for accumulated sick days.

Teachers are currently under a 1-year contract, agreed to in 2020, that secured a 3-tiered severance pay and payment for up to 100 sick days upon retirement. Each is dependent on years of service.

Dunham calls it union busting. “Gary teachers have always had severance and payouts for sick days when retiring. Dr. McNulty gave it to us last year and now she wants to get rid of it without giving us anything.”

All Indiana school districts must file their new teacher compensation agreements by November 15. If the IEERB doesn’t receive an agreement from school districts by then, the state will issue an impasse declaration.

After that, the relations board will appoint a mediator within 15 days. The teacher’s union and the district will work with a mediator for 30 days. Other steps could be taken if an agreement is not reached by that point.

Dunham is State President of the American Federation of Teachers, with 27 chapters across Indiana. “All chapters have signed contracts except 2 – Gary and Hammond,” Dunham said.

On November 11 in downstate Anderson, the Anderson Federation of Teachers, an AFT union affiliate, agreed to a tentative agreement with the Anderson Community Schools Corporation. The first week of November saw 3 days of closed schools when teachers called off sick.

Dunham said Anderson teachers showed they wanted a contract not mediation.

Gary's teachers and district officials have issued statements since Thursday, November 11.

"We have increased teachers’ pay three times over the last two years," Dr. McNulty said. "Currently, we are negotiating with the Gary Teachers Union on a new contract. While an offer has been made for another salary increase, progress on an agreement is not moving as swiftly as we all wanted."

"The truth is teachers’ pay has only increased one time during the last 13 years," Gary Teachers Union replied. "Teachers received an increase in pay of 5.3% starting January 1st, 2021. Teachers had their work day increased by an additional hour paid at their hourly rate starting in the 2021-2022 school year. Teachers received a $2,100 Covid hazard working condition stipend in 2021."

The union countered the district's statement " ... we deeply appreciate our teachers and will continue to negotiate in good faith" with another truth. "The truth is GCSC came to the negotiation table three separate times wanting teachers to give up benefits with zero money being offered. The Union feels this shows GCSC’s lack of appreciation of teachers."

Asked about the collective bargaining, Dr. McNulty wrote, "While we cannot share details of the negotiation, I can confirm that we are in mediation and are confident that a resolution will be reached over the next 30 days."

Story Posted:11/17/2021

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