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Decatur teaching assistants, district fail to reach agreement in 3-hour negotiating session

Decatur teaching assistants, district fail to reach agreement in 3-hour negotiating session

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Paula Busboom, right, looks on as Jon Nadler, field service director for the Illinois Federation of Teachers, speaks during a press conference at the Decatur Civic Center. 

DECATUR — The school district and union representing Decatur teaching assistants did not reach an agreement during negotiating session that lasted more than three hours Monday. 

Denise Swarthout, chief communications officer for the school district, confirmed the outcome in a statement issued Monday night. She said the two sides had "productive discussions" during the negotiations with a federal mediator. 

"Another negotiating session will be scheduled soon," she said, "and we will communicate any movement toward an agreement as soon as we can."

Jon Nadler, a field service director for the Illinois Federation of Teachers, speaking immediately after the negotiations said they are hoping the mediator will come back with another date as soon as possible.

"We gave the board's team another proposal and they again said no," Nadler said.  

The two sides began talks in April and have had multiple meetings with a federal mediator. One major sticking point has been cost increases for health insurance, which union members say are not affordable especially for those with families. District leaders say their proposals are reasonable. 

Union members went on strike in October but went back to work after learning that they would not receive health insurance benefits during the strike. 

The two sides last met Dec. 16. 

Teaching assistants currently pay $900 annually for single employee coverage and $3,300 for family coverage over 18 pay periods, or nine months of the year while they are working. The district's health insurance proposal offers a high-deductible plan with lower monthly premiums in addition to a comparable level of coverage with higher monthly premium costs. 

Costs under the lower-deductible plan range from $1,471.56 for a single employee to $8,159.28 for family coverage in 2023, the final year of the contract. Monthly premiums for single employees would be covered by the district under the higher-deductible plan. Those with family coverage would pay $3,864 annually. 

Employees with a spouse or children under the lower-deductible plan would pay between $5,500 and $5,700 and $2,300 to $2,400 under the higher-deductible plan. 

PHOTOS: Decatur Federation of Teaching Assistants rally prior to negotiating with the school board

Contact Analisa Trofimuk at (217) 421-7985. Follow her on Twitter: @AnalisaTro


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