Hinsdale school board poised to sign teacher contract full of pay raises … and the public has barely had a chance to see it

Paul Kersey

Labor law expert, occasional smart-aleck, defender of the free society.

Paul Kersey
/ Labor
October 20, 2014

Hinsdale school board poised to sign teacher contract full of pay raises … and the public has barely had a chance to see it

The school board in Hinsdale Township High School District 86 is expected to approve a contract with the local teachers union this week, despite the fact that the school board refused to make the terms of this agreement available to the public. Luckily, on Oct. 19, the contract was obtained by the Illinois Policy Institute...

The school board in Hinsdale Township High School District 86 is expected to approve a contract with the local teachers union this week, despite the fact that the school board refused to make the terms of this agreement available to the public. Luckily, on Oct. 19, the contract was obtained by the Illinois Policy Institute and the Daily Herald’s Jake Griffin.

A union contract is an important document that can affect how public schools function and how much they cost. The public deserves a chance to be informed and to participate in the bargaining process before contracts are ratified and made binding.

As Griffin pointed out, most of the teachers union’s demands were met. Here are a couple of highlights from the proposed contract:

  •  Teachers are still guaranteed hefty annual pay raises. The district originally wanted more gradual pay raises spread out over 35 years. They stuck to that position at least into September. But the tentative contract keeps the old schedule, under which teachers will still be able to reach their maximum annual salary of over $120,000 after 19 years in the classroom, with some changes. This means teachers will receive 3-4 percent pay raises every year for 19 years. Teachers can receive pay increases for gaining new academic credentials such as a master’s degree, or for taking on additional duties such as sponsoring a club or coaching a team. But these come on top of the automatic pay hikes.
  • The contract still allows for pension spiking. Teachers who are at or near the maximum salary can arrange to have their salary increased by 3 percent for each of their last four years of employment. Although this is less egregious than in the past – the prior contract allowed for four years of six percent pay hikes — this provision still allows teachers to manipulate the state teacher pension program to produce artificially higher retirement benefits.

If the situation in Hinsdale has demonstrated anything, it’s that the practice of holding collective bargaining sessions behind closed doors and out of public view must end. When it’s taxpayers footing the bill for these lucrative contracts, it’s unfair to deny the public an opportunity to review what they’re signing up for. Union contracts deserve more public scrutiny before they are ratified. Illinoisans should insist on a more open bargaining process, and Hinsdale residents should insist that the school board delay ratification until all interested parties – including Hinsdale taxpayers – have had time to deliberate on its terms.

Image source. 

Want more? Get stories like this delivered straight to your inbox.

Thank you, we'll keep you informed!