Naperville School District 203 and the International Union of Operating Engineers Local 150 have come to an individual labor agreement to get the $87.7 million Naperville Central construction project back on track.
On June 30, Local 150 voted to go on strike, and for six days the job site sat empty. However, on July 7, District 203 officials reached out to Local 150 to broker a deal to get workers back on campus and back to work.
“In the end, we had one option and one option only,” said District 203 Superintendent Mark Mitrovich. “And that was to get this building done by August 25th so that we have a place to get these kids back to school.”
Mitrovich and other district officials wouldn’t go into detail about the agreement, noting that it still had to be approved by the Board of Education at its July 19 meeting. A Local 150 spokesman confirmed details of the agreement, saying that in exchange for a guarantee of no more work stoppages, District 203 must use union labor for all construction projects over the next seven years.
For now, both sides are working in good faith until that date in order to get construction done in time for the start of school August 25. That includes working an extended schedule.
“We can go seven days a week, we can go to second and third shifts,” said 203 board member Terry Fielden. “(We will do) whatever we need to do to accelerate the project. We can do the finishes on off hours or at night to get some of that work done.”
For district parents, teachers and students, the overwhelming feeling after hearing the news was relief. During the work stoppage, possible contingency plans that had been discussed included packing all 6,100 district high school students into Naperville North High School for two separate school sessions.
While some students expressed excitement of getting to tour a new building for a month or two, parents of high school seniors are relieved things will be back to normal for this crucial school year.
“My son has been involved in extra-curriculars and got pretty decent grades,” said Barb Lerman, a parent of three Naperville Central students. “We’re doing all the right things . . .it was disappointing to think it could have an effect on his college applications. But now it sounds like it’s going to be okay.”
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