Unit 4 strike cancelled

By Vasanth Sridharan

The Champaign Unit 4 School District and the teachers union reached a tentative agreement about the teachers’ contract during a meeting with a federal mediator Tuesday, according to a press release from the Champaign Unit 4 School District.

The two sides met for nine hours at the mediation session before coming to the tentative agreement, according to the release.

The terms of the agreement will not be released yet because the Champaign Federation of Teachers has to ratify the agreement. They have a meeting next Tuesday afternoon at Centennial High School, 913 Crescent Dr., said Michelle Williams, secretary for the Champaign office of the Illinois Federation of Teachers. The meeting is closed to the public.

The union canceled its strike date because of the tentative agreement, according to the release. They had called a strike date of Oct. 31 after both sides met with the mediator for the first time last week, and negotiations stagnated.

While neither side would go into the terms of the negotiations, John Nadler, field service director for the Champaign office of the Illinois Federation of Teachers, said last week the main issue was salary.

Beth Shepperd, assistant superintendent for human resources and community relations, also said last week during the negotiations that the two main points were salaries and benefits.

The last contract expired on July 1, but informal negotiations started as early as February, Nadler said last week. During the recent meetings, Nadler said two members of the school board as well as Shepperd and a couple of others represented the district’s side, and the teachers’ side included himself and a number of teachers, among others.

The last time the teachers’ contract was renegotiated was in 2002. During those negotiations, the union gave a 10-day intent to strike notice but did not call a strike date nor did they go on strike, Nadler said. The last strike in the district was in 1986.