District 46 teachers, Board negotiate

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Grayslake Community District 46 underwent a union strike on Nov 7. The Board of Education (BOE) and teacher union experienced conflicts when negotiating their contract for the 2019-2020 school year. The teacher union decided to strike to promote their cause.
Teacher union president, Michelle Beye, had a responsibility to share the voice of the union to both community and BOE.
“My job as president was to share as much information as possible, listen to all voices, and make those informed decisions. We did not want to go quietly into the night, and we would be stronger as a union,” Beye said.
The process to compromise took about 11-12 months and involved an exchange of proposals on both sides. President of the District 46 Board of Education, Jim Weidman, explains how these meetings were crucial to a solution.
“Toward the end, these meetings consisted of making sure emotions were validated in both the union and staff. We wanted to allow people to feel vulnerable and hopefully solve miscommunication and move forward,” Weidman said.
Though the strike lasted one day, the impact has affected all the community. Social media played a factor is how information was perceived.
“We had a union public Facebook page where we used the platform to correct any misinformation. It was beneficial to have the easy word spread for our side, when the Board of Education used the district web page that only told their side,” Beye said.
Social media also had its disadvantages. The public forums could be a place for negative discourse about both the BOE and Union.
“On a personal aspect, it was very taxing on my family and I. It was also challenging because you can’t engage because it only makes things worse,” Weidman said.
Though the strike was for fair wages for all D46 teachers and staff, Weidman describes how financial resources aren’t available.
“If I could, I would pay them all 100,00 dollars; however, we just didn’t have the money to do so,” Weidman said.
Both sides have learned how to move forward with their new experiences. They hope to move on for the better.
“One thing I regret is that I made personal judgments, and I got frustrated, but I wanted to make the best informed decision. I’m proud that I was able to bring people together and foster a community,” Beye said. “I wanted for everyone to have a sense of safety in their environment.”
The District 46 teachers will have a 4 percent raise for the 2019-2020 school year, a 3.6 percent raise for the ‘20-’21 year, and raises for sponsors for extracurriculars and substitute teachers. There will also be a committee that consists of members from both sides that will oversee financials.