Your Union and District leadership discussed some possible changes to opening day activities for teachers. Thanks to the input from many teachers, as well as the actions of your Union leadership, the District plans to make some changes next year which will hopefully afford teachers more time in their classrooms at the start of the year.
Please don't hesitate to forward any future concerns or complaints on to your campus reps or the Union leadership! We're here to look out for you!
The term ‘Right To Work’ is a misleading phrase used by opponents of unions and collective bargaining, to eliminate the leverage unions have to negotiate fair wages & working conditions. The choice of words is meant to convey something that it is not. Federal law prohibits anyone from being required to belong to a union to hold any job. However, federal law also requires all workers, union or not, to receive the same wages, benefits and protections negotiated and provided by that union.
Therefore, it has been customary to permit unions to collect ‘Fair Share’ payments from non-union workers. Fair share requires non-union members pay the equivalence of union dues to the union. The rationale for this is the union incurs significant costs negotiating the benefits received by all members, union or not. Federal law also mandates the union legally represent non-union members for any work-related disputes. This may require the union to incur expensive legal bills defending non-union members.
Some union and non-union members object to their dues or fair share being spent for political activities that they oppose. However, everyone has the right to direct any of their dues that would otherwise be spent for ‘political activities’ to be allocated toward a non-religious charity of their choice. In other words, no one is required to spend any of their money supporting political causes that he or she personally opposes.
If Fair Share were eliminated in Illinois, some of our people will quit so they can save money on dues. When enough members drop, the bargaining unit loses leverage to negotiate better wages and conditions for all workers. Our pay and benefits in District 201 are comparatively good because our union has nearly always had 100 percent membership. Make no mistake! If Fair Share is eliminated, and just a portion of our people quit the union, you can expect a diminution of our pay and benefits relative to inflation.
Currently, 25 states have ‘Right To Work’ laws, and teachers’ unions in Illinois are under assault from two directions. Governor Rauner refuses to even discuss the Illinois budget until Democrats agree to sacrifice public unions. The current Supreme Court vacancy and Senate gridlock has the possibility of affecting the outcome of this case.
In light of the recent election, this topic will most likely come back to the Supreme Court. That is why we need to be vigilant about protecting ourselves. That is the function of our union. The next U.S. President and Congress have significant power to affect your paycheck.
Our union leadership has a vision. We are working regularly behind the scenes to better serve you. BFT Local 434’s vision is to be active and engaged in the school and community.
In the upcoming months, we will be holding several events. In February our Young Members Focus Group will be meeting. This group helps us build our future capacity. Please let us know if you are a young member and are interested in being a let if this group.
Also in February we will be holding a PERA Q & A. All members are invited. This will be a chance for all members to ask questions after summaries evaluation scores are received. This is a chance for you to speak out and ask questions so we can work for equitable and fair evaluations.
Finally, in March, we will be inviting all school board candidates to a Meet and Greet. We will be negotiating a new contract in two years and these people will be on our school board. Now is the time for us to be active at the local level and build a strategic alliance with our board. We can let our voices be heard and select pro-union and pro- teacher candidates.
Please be watching for further information on these events.
The district currently is running at a surplus of about $16 million due to retirements and other cost-saving measures of around $2.2 million. Revenues are up about $600,000. Due to some changes with working cash that increased the district’s borrowing capacity alongside these cost saving measures, District 201 is no longer on the Financial Watch List for the State of Illinois. This is a huge achievement for the district and something that makes it more fiscally marketable.
The state currently owes the District about $2.56 million for the last fiscal year. For the current fiscal year, the amount is around $3.4 million so far. Some of this will be recovered as the state makes payouts for special education ($316K) and transportation ($195K for special education and $485k for regular education). It is just a matter of waiting as the state slowly releases funding.
There will be a long-term planning meeting for people close to retirement at the district office as soon as the state decides on final changes to the pension. Right now Mr. Mentzer is holding off until these are more solid and there is substantial enough information to meet.
If you have questions on paychecks, call Brian Mentzer or Josh Lane (ext. 8255). The district appreciates patience on the first payroll and will work to make any corrections right away.
Last Updated: September, 2016
A couple of our members had the pleasure of meeting Katie Stuart recently. She's running to replace Dwight Kay for state representative in district 112 and is being endorsed by the IFT for her support of teachers and the middle class.
Best of luck, Katie!
As the end of the school year approaches, we wanted to take a minute to recognize all of our Local #434 members who are retiring this year. We thank you for your many years of dedicated service, and we will ensure that your legacy continues by making District #201 a great place to go to school and work.
This year's retirees are:
Scott Baer - Night School - 30 years of service
Patrick Watkins - East Campus - 30 years of service
Tom Birkner - West Campus - 22 years of service
Linda DeBoer - East Campus - 32 years of service
Carol Harms - East Campus - 22 years of service
Cheryl Logston - East Campus - 11 years of service
Jennifer Sage - West Campus - 22 years of service
Brian Mitchell - West Campus - 31 years of service
Sherry Habermehl - West Campus - 33 years of service
Diana Sims - West Campus - 17 years of service
Terry Farrell - East Campus - 19.5 years of service
Sharon Orr-Woods - East Campus - 8.5 years of service
Eighty years ago, six teachers at Belleville Township High School, one of whom had taught for 9 years, were dismissed from the district. While the reason for these dismissals was unclear, it was soon apparent that there was no just cause for these random firings. In fact, the principal at the time said that the teachers' work had been "entirely satisfactory."
Students took notice. The following Monday most students at the high school had organized a walk-out. They marched on West Main Street in front of the school, shutting down the driveway to the auditorium. They soon marched downtown and protested in front of the offices of board members.
Although all teachers were eventually reinstated, the need for a union quickly became apparent. On November 18th, 1935, the American Federation of Teachers Local #434 was affiliated under the American Federation of Labor. This school year marks the 80th year of our union serving the schools and community of District #201.
All who knew Chyriell Drain-Hill are still adjusting to life without her huge smile and larger-than-life presence. Chyriell passed away suddenly on Sunday, April 17, 2016.
Chyriell graduated from East St. Louis Sr. High School in 1979. She received her BS in Education in 1983 and her MS in Education in 1990 from Illinois State University. She was the Assistant Director of Admissions for ISU from 1984-1991. She taught Special Ed for two years at East St. Louis, followed by seven years with Cahokia High School’s Special Ed department. She started at Belleville East in 2002 and served as Director of Counseling for the past twelve years.
Her commitment and dedication to students was exemplified by her last College Bus Tour in March. Despite her health concerns and not feeling well, she said she had to do it “for the kids”. Her focus was always on what was best for kids. She set high standards for her students, and she knew they would rise to meet them. She had a knack for being able to talk straight to students and help them see how their choices and behaviors were impeding their success. They knew she was sincere and accepted her advice. After her passing, many students came forward to leave notes and make statements attesting to this.
Chyriell was known to be bold and outspoken at times. A woman of faith, her pastor said at her funeral that she feared no one but God. It made no difference to her if you were a church bishop, a superintendent, or state senator; she spoke her truth and expressed her ideas with passion and conviction. She would do whatever was necessary for people that sought her help. One of her greatest gifts as a counselor was to make everyone feel heard. She could be in a huge hurry, but you’d never know it, and she’d never show it; she’d make you think that she was waiting in her office just for you to go talk to her. It’s no wonder so many students referred to her affectionately as “Mama Hill”, or their “school mom”, or “second mom”. She was happy to help ANY student who was lucky enough to walk into her office. And that’s why students…and parents…and East faculty… would flock to her office; they knew she’d take good care of them! She had an enviable ability to work with people. It was inspiring! And it’s not something that someone could imitate; it was a gift, … uniquely hers.
Chyriell will be remembered for her infectious laugh and easy smile. She definitely was “one of a kind” and will be missed by all.
Chyriell’s church is establishing a scholarship in her name. Donations may be made to New Life in Christ Church and may be mailed to:
New Life in Christ Interdenominational Church
689 Scott Troy Road
Lebanon, IL 62254
For District Employees
The Affordable Care Act (ACA) requires that the District 201 provide employees with a 1095 form showing their health insurance benefits. These forms will normally be distributed with the W-2 earning statements in January, but due to a lack of regulatory guidelines by the IRS, the deadline has been extended to March 31st for employers. Employees do NOT need to submit these to the IRS with their 2015 tax year forms. Simply check the box that indicates that coverage is in place but the forms are not distributed yet. For the 2016 tax year, the forms will need to be included with federal returns. The 1095 will show: 1) employee and district information 2) Type of coverage and ACA classification, monthly cost, and a reason if not offered 3) Dependent information.
State of the State
Governor Rauner did his state of the state yesterday, and in a surprising move, he took education out of the discretionary fund and made it a stand-along budget bill. Rauner called for an increase in early childhood education which does not impact District 201, but he also did call for the General State Aid (GSA) to be fully funded at $6,119, something the state has not done for years. Mr. Mentzer is almost certain that this will come with some stipulations requiring the legislature to enact pension reform as well as attempt to curb collective bargaining. There will have to be an income source dedicated to the funding as well, most likely a negotiated tax increase with Speaker Madigan and President Cullerton. There were some progress in pension reform talks between the Senate President and the Governor, but these apparently fell apart when the Governor tied them to ending collective bargaining, something that Cullerton refused to address. The state budget outstanding balance is currently $3,568,444.35 to District 201.
Debt Restructure of the District
The District completed their debt restructure last month, which increased their working cash by $1,800,000 for this fiscal year. The same restructuring method will be used again next fiscal year. This restructuring did not impact our Standard and Poor’s Bond Rating of “A”, which is extremely high for municipal bonds in this current economic climate.
The State of Illinois audit went very well thanks to the diligent work of the Central Office Administrative Assistants and Bookkeepers. The district did exceptionally well and only had a $26,000 correction to make which resulted from a change in coding of transportation funding for special education. Other local districts did not fare so well, some owing the state almost half a million dollars.
Finally, Mr. Mentzer is working on three new grants for the district. Two are custodial, one to buy a new ride on floor cleaner for West and another for new snow removal equipment for both campuses. These two have been approved and are good to go. The third is a $25,000 grant from Monsanto to help cover expenses in the Ag classes. This is still pending.
Proud alumnus, union member, and educator in District #201 since 2006.
Dr. Hentze is the author of High Finance with Hentze, a monthly blog that provides news about District 201's current financial state.