COD teachers rally, march to board meeting to vent feelings about stalled contract talks
A tentative contract agreement has been reached between full-time faculty and the College of DuPage. The dispute lasted for 14 months. In April, faculty and supporters held a march to focus attention on their concerns about a new contract. | Brian Power
Updated: May 27, 2012 8:14AM
The College of DuPage full-time faculty rallied before the college’s board meeting April 19, meeting at Lake Foxcroft Park in Glen Ellyn before walking together to the college and making their feelings about their current contract impasse known to the Board of Trustees.
Working without a contract since last summer, speakers at the rally emphasized the fairness and respect they felt teachers deserved.
“This is so hurtful and disrespectful,” Faculty Association President Glenn Hansen said before the rally.
Hansen said that the mediation that the two sides are engaging in was, “going OK. There’s been a little movement … people are at least communicating.”
The faculty has already agreed to salary increases identical to other negotiating units at the college, with raises of 2.85, 3.15, 3.55 and 4.15 percent over the four years of a contract.
Hansen has indicated that some concessions are acceptable to the rank and file, including teachers paying 20 percent of their health care premiums and losing a retirement bonus that could net a full-time instructor up to a year of salary.
But the sticking points remain compensation for teaching summer school and earning less for non-traditional methods of instruction, such as online courses or classes taught in studios instead of in a more traditional environment.
While Hansen said that he wasn’t optimistic about an end to the impasse, he also said there has been no discussion of a work stoppage.
“We’re not even close to a strike,” he said.
Other union officials turned out in support of the college’s rank and file.
Illinois Education Association Executive Director Audrey Soglin chided the administration for its demands.
“Work more for less pay,” she said sarcastically. “That sounds like a rallying cry.”
Association Treasurer-Secretary Al Llorens said the administration was wrong to think it “could have a high-quality institution without high-quality educators.”
DuPage Democratic Chairman Bob Peickert warned college board members, noting that union members had helped some board members get elected, the implication being they could work to get them off the board.
After moving the rally to the board meeting, Hansen accused the college of using the its website as a propaganda weapon against the teachers.
“When you do all this, it’s unprofessional,” he said. “Remove all the pages referring to negotiations on the COD website.”
COD student Brendan McCormick said that he supported the faculty association and reminded COD President Robert Breuder that he had once likened the students to customers.
“I’m a customer,” McCormick said, “and the customer’s always right.”
Numerous faculty members addressed the board. Most of them hit on the theme of a lack of fairness and respect they felt from the college and repeated what was an obvious talking point: “COD Board members, enough is enough.”
However, Board President David Carlin of Naperville blasted the faculty for accusing the board of lacking integrity and having no respect for teachers.
“We haven’t placed ads in the newspapers with misleading information,” he said, also stressing that there were about 100 teachers outside holding signs up.
Trustee Kim Savage suggested removing the pages from the website giving the administration’s position.
Carlin said he wouldn’t disarm the college and stressed that the board had an obligation to taxpayers in the district, noting that there were about 6,000 DuPage families going through foreclosure proceedings.
Savage made a motion anyway to remove the pages from the website, and was supported by board members Dianne McGuire and Nancy Svoboda.
But Carlin, along with board members Erin Birt, Allison O’Donnell and Joe Wozniak voted against the motion so it failed.
After the meeting, Carlin said that he believes “all of the information (on the website) was factual” and stressed that the board had not even received a contract offer to vote on.
“Let the negotiations play out,” he said.