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Potential Strike Q&A for RPS 205 Employees

3/1/2017

​​​If there is a strike, when would the strike happen?
The Illinois Educational Labor Relations Act allows organized employees of the district to strike under certain conditions. Among these conditions, the union must file a strike notice at least 10 calendar days before the date that a strike may begin. This does not necessarily mean that a strike starts 10 days after that notice. The unions have internal procedures for voting to authorize a strike.  The district received a strike notice March 2.​ The district does not control whether there is a strike or the timing of a strike. District officials will also continue to negotiate in good faith and plan on additional collective bargaining sessions.

Do I have to participate in the strike?
No. You have the right to decide how you wish to vote during any internal union vote to authorize a strike. You also have the right to decide whether to participate in a strike, or to instead remain at work (or to return to work) during a strike. Teachers and other district employees who are not members of the striking bargaining unit are required to come to work.

Can I be fired for striking?
A lawful strike is a protected activity under the law. The district will not discharge or otherwise retaliate against striking employees lawfully exercising their rights.

If I decide to remain at work or to return to work during the strike, could I be fined or otherwise penalized by the union?
A union's constitution and/or bylaws may allow a union to impose fines or assess penalties against its members who "cross" a picket line during a strike and who return to or remain at work during a strike.  The district welcomes you to continue to work during a strike regardless of whether you belong to the union. However, in fairness to you and in order to avoid union fines or penalties you may wish to resign from the union before crossing the picket line and/or returning to work during a strike.

Will I be paid during a strike? What happens to my benefits?
Employees who choose to strike will not be paid by the district during the strike. Additionally, and depending on the length and the timing of the strike, they may or may not remain eligible to receive health and dental insurance benefits from the district while they are on strike. If they do not remain eligible for those benefits, striking employees will have to pay the full cost of their health and dental insurance during the period of the strike, including the amount normally contributed by the district.​

Can I use vacation or sick time during a strike?
Employees who choose to strike will not be eligible to take vacation or sick leave.

Can I collect unemployment benefits during a strike?
Striking workers are generally ineligible for unemployment benefits. According to the Illinois Department of Employment Security (IDES), workers may be disqualified from unemployment benefits when they are out of work because of a labor dispute.  For more information, follow this link to a publication from the IDES​.

If I participate in the strike, will others be hired to do my job during the strike? How does this affect me after a strike?
The district continues to negotiate with the unions in good faith and plans on additional collective bargaining sessions with each union. Nevertheless, the district must develop plans to continue its operations in the event of a strike. Along these lines, the district is free to hire temporary replacements for striking workers to maintain educational support services. In certain instances, the law permits the district to hire permanent replacement workers. If permanent replacement workers are hired, then workers returning from a strike would have preferential rights to vacancies, but only if any vacancies exist.

If I choose not to strike, how will my pay be impacted during the strike period?
Employees who choose not to strike and continue to show up to work will receive their normal rate of pay and benefits in keeping with the district's January 27, 2017 Implementation of its Last, Best and Final Offer.

If I choose not to strike, do I become an at-will employee?
The position does not convert to an at-will position. As noted above, the pay and benefits for an employee who chooses to continue to show up for work will be the pay and benefits as outlined in the district's January 27, 2017 Implementation of its Last, Best and Final Offer. Employees who choose not to strike continue to be union members and continue to be represented by the union.

Can the district outsource my job?
The Illinois School Code permits the district to contract with third parties to provide non-instructional services that are currently performed by district employees. This contracting must take place after the expiration of any bargaining agreement. In this case, the collective bargaining agreements with the unions expired on June 30, 2016. The district will explore this option and solicit bids from third party contractors with regard to bus drivers and nutritional services.

The district will provide many opportunities for employees, the unions, and the general public to learn about and discuss this contracting option. Consistent with the School Code, further information regarding submitted bids will be available during at least one public School Board meeting, and there will also be a public hearing prior to the award of any contract. The district will continue to negotiate with the unions in good faith and plans on additional collective bargaining sessions with each union. 

If the district outsources my job, what happens to my job? When would it happen?
In the event the district selects a contract for a third party to provide non-instructional services currently performed by district employees, the positions covered by the contract will be eliminated, and those employees will be laid off by the district. Employees will receive 90 days' notice prior to any lay off. 

In many cases, employees will be eligible to perform the same work for the contractor. The School Code requires that the awarded contract must offer available positions under the contract to the district's qualified employees who lost their jobs because of the contract. Additionally, the contract must provide a benefits package for the contractor's employees, which is comparable to the benefits provided to district employees who perform those services. Finally, the contract must contain nondiscrimination and equal employment opportunity for all persons.

Will negotiations continue during a strike?
The district has attempted t​o schedule additional bargaining sessions.

Where can I get more information about the negotiations, offers and benefits?
The district provides a publicly-available, detailed "Negotiations Update" on its website.