Union members and supporters rallied at College of DuPage to continue to work toward locking in a three-year contract.
Their previous one expired at midnight on Tuesday, August 13, with the school year beginning just six days later.
About the Contract
“So we’ve been negotiating for a fair contract starting back in January,” said COD Faculty Association President Shannon Toler. “And what we’re looking for is a contract that preserves the learning environment that we know is successful for our students, that creates the environment that we know supports student success, and that also fairly compensates our faculty – a number of whom had salary freezes for more than three years and starting salaries that have been frozen for three years.”
After months of talks with the Board of Trustees, no resolution had been reached.
The Board’s Response
“We have a first-rate faculty and staff here and we fully recognize the need to be competitive with our salaries, benefits, facilities and every other factor in making COD a good destination college for students in DuPage County,” said COD Board of Trustees Chairman Frank Napolitano. “We also must balance the finances with the burden we place on our taxpayers in the district who have always demonstrated generosity in supporting the college. Our board firmly believes we can do both those things with a spirit of cooperation and appreciation on both sides.”
The ongoing negotiation led Toler to take action and lead nearly 300 CODFA members, and dozens of other supporters, in a rally on campus.
“I think it’s important for all education professionals to stand together, especially in this time of so many different entities battling with public education,” said Rob Hunt with the Naperville Unit Education Association. “I think it’s important for us to show our solidarity and our unity with situations like this to show that education matters, and right now education matters as much as it ever has, if not more than it ever has.”
Mediation Agreement Made
Shortly beforehand, the Board of Trustees announced it had signed a formal mediation agreement – something the CODFA had requested on July 30.
“This is a comprehensive contract with a host of vital considerations and we believe we are moving in the right direction with a focus on student success,” said COD President Dr. Brian Caputo in a statement.
Speaking at the Meeting
With the hope to make further progress, ralliers gathered at the board’s meeting afterward, even speaking at public comment about their efforts.
“We want to make sure that ‘no’ – we are committed fully to coming back here and being with our students,” added Toler. “We don’t want to go on strike. We want to get a fair contract and return to our classrooms.”
The next bargaining session is on August 27, where the CODFA’s latest contract offer will be discussed.
Naperville News 17’s Christine Lena reports.
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