Kane County

Teachers' Strike Looms in Suburban Geneva

Teachers in far west suburban Geneva could walk off the job as soon as Tuesday, as a strike looms while contract negotiations continue.

Both Geneva School District 304 and the Geneva Education Association were expected back at the bargaining table Monday, while the union was planning a rally for the afternoon to rev up support.

The GEA set a strike date for Dec. 4 if they cannot reach a deal with the school board, with teachers prepared to walk out.

“A strike is GEA’s absolute last resort,” President Kevin Gannon said. “We are still hopeful we can reach a fair agreement, but the bottom line is if we have to go out on strike we will.”

The main sticking point is salary for the nearly 500 teachers in nine schools in the top-ranked Geneva school district. They've been without a contract since August and claim that they're paid far less than colleagues in neighboring districts and can barely make ends meet.

In a statement on the Geneva School District website, says it has offered a "$5.3 million, or a 17% increase, in new money for teacher compensation over the life of the proposed four-year contract."

High school teacher Kevin Gannon serves as president of the Teachers’ Union and says his members have more than one issue with the districts proposal, including that 17 percent increase he says will only be offered to new teachers and not veterans.

"We want to be able to start a family and we want the step and lane salary schedule knowing that down the road we’ll be able to afford things like daycare," language arts teacher Jordan Brewner said.

The school board has offered what they describe as a significant increase, but the union rejected the last proposal based on a structure that gave a bigger raise to newer teachers and a smaller increase to the more experienced ones at the top of the pay scale.

If a strike does happen and there’s no school tomorrow, families will be notified via the district’s electronic messaging system.

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