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*** UPDATED x1 *** Pritzker, teachers’ unions strike deal on paid leave that promotes vaccines

Monday, Jan 24, 2022

* Press release…

After productive conversations, Gov. Pritzker, the Illinois Education Association, the Illinois Federation of Teachers and other stakeholders announced that they have negotiated a compromise that will keep students and teachers safely in the classroom without penalizing vaccinated employees for taking COVID-required sick time.

“Vaccines are a vital tool in preventing the deadly effects of COVID-19, and those who take the steps to be fully vaccinated against this virus are doing their part to keep everyone safe,” said Governor JB Pritzker. “They deserve to be able to take the time they need to respond to the ongoing devastating impacts the COVID-19 pandemic continues to have on them and their families. This collaborative initiative will provide paid administrative leave for education employees who, despite doing all they can to keep themselves and their communities safe, continue to have their lives and livelihoods disrupted by COVID-19.”

“Keeping schools open and those inside them – and their families – safe has been our number one priority from the start of the pandemic,” said Kathi Griffin, President of the Illinois Education Association. “We want people to stay home when they’re sick, to be able to care for their children when their children need them the most, and to be paid when the circumstances that close their buildings are completely beyond their control. This bill protects school and university employees and all those they teach, drive to and from school, feed and care for in so many ways. Health care professionals and scientists have given us a path out of this pandemic and we should follow it.”

“The pandemic has been physically, emotionally, and economically challenging for us all, and certainly no less so for educators, school staff, and their families,” said Illinois Federation of Teachers President Dan Montgomery. “This legislation provides important relief and ensures that education personnel can afford to take time off if they or they families become ill with COVID.

“We applaud Governor Pritzker for his steady support of science and good public health and thank him for working with us to provide teachers, school staff and higher education professionals with critical resources that will help them keep kids safe and schools open,” added Montgomery.

This joint initiative provides the following protections for educators, school employees, and their families:

• Paid administrative leave for every employee of a public school district established under Article 10 or Article 34 of the School Code, public university, and public community college who is

    o fully vaccinated or has received the required doses to become fully vaccinated within five weeks of the effective date of the Act and who
    o is required, or whose child is required, to be excluded from school because of a positive COVID-19 test result or close contact with a person who had a confirmed case of COVID-19.
    o has been required by the school or school district policy to be excluded from school district property due to COVID-19 symptoms.

• Restoration of sick leave for every employee of a public school district, public university, and public community college who

    o is fully vaccinated or has received the required doses to become fully vaccinated within five weeks of the effective date of the Act, and
    o who has previously used their sick time because they or their child were required to be excluded from school because of a positive COVID-19 test result or close contact with a person who had a confirmed case of COVID-19
    o has been required by the school or school district policy to be excluded from school district property due to COVID-19 symptoms.

• Maintains wage protections in HB 2778 for all hourly school employees, including but not limited to, custodial, transportation, food service providers, classroom assistants, or administrative staff. This protection applies for the entire 2021-22 school year, including any days that a school has already closed or switched to e-learning which caused the paraprofessional to go without pay or take their own earned paid time off.

As a result of this collaboration, the Governor is vetoing House Bill 2778.

“Fully vaccinated” at the moment means two shots (or one J&J). If the CDC says a booster is required, the state requirement will change for future benefits.

* Excerpt from the FAQ…

What if I have a religious or medical exemption from my district?

    The bill does not impact any federal protections regarding religious or medical exemptions from vaccination requirements. Those employees who were granted a medical or religious exemption from vaccination by their employer pursuant to federal law are eligible for this benefit.

What does this mean for teachers who aren’t vaccinated and do not have a recognized medical or religious exemption from their employer, but who are tested every week?

    They will not receive any additional leave beyond what they receive in their contract.

Why are only vaccinated teachers eligible for these benefits?

    Vaccines prevent serious illness, hospitalization and death, and decrease the chances of an employee spreading the virus which is in furtherance of public health and means that schools will be able to operate more consistently over time, with fewer staff in need of sick time. Vaccinations are widely available through many publicly available sources.

What wage protection is provided under this Act?

    If a school district temporarily closes because of COVID-19 or switches to e-learning, paraprofessionals and school related personnel must continue to be paid even if they cannot perform their regular scheduled duties. For instance, if you are a 180-day paraprofessional and your district goes remote for 10 days, this Act requires you to be paid for those days even if you were not required to work those days. This protection applies for the entire 2021-22 school year, including any days that a school has already closed or switched to e-learning which caused the paraprofessional to go without pay or take their own earned paid time off.

Will you apply this sick leave policy to preschool teachers and day care staff?

    The COVID-19 paid sick leave policy in this bill only applies to employees of public school districts, public universities, and public community colleges.

*** UPDATE *** Center Square with react

Alison Maley, Government & Public Relations director for the Illinois Principals Association, said the group is reviewing the latest agreement but remains concerned about staff shortages.

“We appreciate the Governor’s action on HB 2778 and look forward to reviewing language on this new agreement,” Maley said. “Acknowledging the difference in exclusion requirements for vaccinated and unvaccinated educators and staff is an important step to maintaining in-person learning. We continue to be concerned about the shortage of substitute teachers and staff to accommodate administrative and sick leave and look forward to working with the General Assembly and the Governor on addressing short and long-term solutions for this ongoing crisis.”

I reached out to the IASA and the IASB and never heard back.

- Posted by Rich Miller        

23 Comments
  1. - Arsenal - Monday, Jan 24, 22 @ 2:04 pm:

    A negotiated outcome was in everyone and the state’s best interests. And it’s a testament to what you can accomplish when you don’t start from the assumption that the unions are illegitimate and must be penalized.


  2. - PublicServant - Monday, Jan 24, 22 @ 2:04 pm:

    The “Religious” exemption needs to be very specific, or I’m starting the Tavernists, and declaring, with no evidence needed, that heavy consumption of liquor immunizes you from any and all illnesses. You’ll still get sick, of course, but you won’t care…until you sober up that is. /s


  3. - Norseman - Monday, Jan 24, 22 @ 2:05 pm:

    Well done.


  4. - Oswego Willy - Monday, Jan 24, 22 @ 2:07 pm:

    Any time a negotiated outcome can be found it’s a good thing for all parties.

    Well done, all


  5. - NonAFSCMEStateEmployeeFromChatham - Monday, Jan 24, 22 @ 2:14 pm:

    This bill needs to be also applied to all vaccinated State Employees (of which I am among them) in addition to teachers and other school/university staff.


  6. - Wensicia - Monday, Jan 24, 22 @ 2:17 pm:

    Yes, this works for all of us (vaccinated).

    If you’re not vaccinated, get the shots.


  7. - eyeball - Monday, Jan 24, 22 @ 2:18 pm:

    What other stakeholders were part of the negotiated? Illinois School Board Association? Illinois Association of School Administrators? Illinois Association of School Business Officials?


  8. - Candy Dogood - Monday, Jan 24, 22 @ 2:37 pm:

    I hope the Governor is signaling that he plans on providing this same sick leave policy to the employees of the state that he has direct oversight over.

    If that’s not the plan it’s a pretty effective way to demoralize many thousands of people who work for state agencies and have made the responsible decision to be vaccinated. Or do the unions that represent those employees need to hit the legislature up first too?


  9. - Unconventional wisdom - Monday, Jan 24, 22 @ 2:42 pm:

    This should have been agreed to and effected at the outset. Seems ludicrous this took so long in negotiation.

    But I guess all is well that ends well.


  10. - NonAFSCMEStateEmployeeFromChatham - Monday, Jan 24, 22 @ 2:45 pm:

    ==Or do the unions that represent those employees need to hit the legislature up first too?==

    Ironically, the IFT, which is one of the unions which negotiated on the teacher vaccination deal, represents many state employees too (including a lot of Secretary of State professional titles that are not covered by SEIU or Teamsters) through their IFPE affiliate.


  11. - Take a closer look - Monday, Jan 24, 22 @ 3:03 pm:

    Nice job! This will help Democrats in a big way by keeping their base United.


  12. - Congratulations - Monday, Jan 24, 22 @ 3:11 pm:

    Big congratulations on this one! Special shout out to the Governor’s Policy Office & DG Torres for all of their hard! This was a big task and happy to see it get done!


  13. - Frank talks - Monday, Jan 24, 22 @ 3:27 pm:

    Well this should be inexpensive.


  14. - City Zen - Monday, Jan 24, 22 @ 4:10 pm:

    Thank goodness none of these employees will have to dip into their bank of 114 unused sick days. /s


  15. - Sue - Monday, Jan 24, 22 @ 4:18 pm:

    JB’s solution is lacking a vital component- Reimbursement from Springfield using the Federal monies the State received from the Covid programs. Explain to us taxpayers why the cost of a State negotiated agreement should be crammed down onto the local school districts taxpayers. This is why we need to dump JB. He is totally the captive of the teacher unions like every other Democratic office holder


  16. - Rich Miller - Monday, Jan 24, 22 @ 4:23 pm:

    ===Reimbursement from Springfield using the Federal monies the State received from the Covid program===

    Districts got their own big haul.


  17. - Father Jones - Monday, Jan 24, 22 @ 5:51 pm:

    === He is totally the captive of the teacher unions like every other Democratic office holder===

    If that were true, don’t you think he would have.. gee, you know, signed HB2778 as originally proposed by labor?


  18. - JS Mill - Monday, Jan 24, 22 @ 6:41 pm:

    =Any time a negotiated outcome can be found it’s a good thing for all parties.=

    All parties were not involved in the negotiations and there are a number of problematic issues. The school management alliance was shut out and this was only between the governor and the two unions. Not very collaborative as the other groups have legitimate issue to address.

    1. Unlimited and no clear sunset are two serious issues.

    2.Will likely lead to less in person school when staff have unlimited days

    3. Will undermine test to stay and create more classrooms where the teacher is a sub or a para just to stay open.

    =Districts got their own big haul.=

    And few if any put money toward subs. It isn’t a slush fund that can be used as we desire. The monies are distributed through grants that we had to apply for. If it isn’t in there then the district won’t get to seek reimbursement. Most districts have submitted and been approved for ESSER 2 and 3 grants already. So too late for most of us, especially if we have already committed monies to other COVID related costs or projects.

    We have been working on a local solution and we were making progress, it was going to be 10 extra days. Now that is moot.

    Bad school legislation where the public only sees and hears about how nice it is for teachers and there is all of this covide money for schools. Bu that isn’t reality.


  19. - Oswego Willy - Monday, Jan 24, 22 @ 6:46 pm:

    === Unlimited and no clear sunset are two serious issues.===

    With respect, and not as snarky as it will read;

    Unless you know when the Covid pandemic itself is finally over, why limit or sunset, it’ll put a timetable for a virus not following any timetable at all.


  20. - Proud Papa Bear - Monday, Jan 24, 22 @ 7:26 pm:

    Well done, JB. Makes me feel better about working in a school with 1,800 other people, as I have for the past year and a half, while dutifully following and enforcing every precaution.


  21. - Zoomer - Tuesday, Jan 25, 22 @ 4:16 am:

    == Explain to us taxpayers ==

    Sue, educators are taxpayers, too.

    Thanks,
    Zoomer


  22. - Oswego Willy - Tuesday, Jan 25, 22 @ 4:40 am:

    ===Sue, educators are taxpayers, too.===

    - Zoomer -

    It’s not that - Sue - doesn’t see that or understand that, it’s that - Sue - sees things like this as “us versus them” and teachers are the enemy, and so is JB.

    “Taxpayers” is the phony to a hidden thought to it.


  23. - NonAFSCMEStateEmployeeFromChatham - Tuesday, Jan 25, 22 @ 5:14 am:

    ==Why are only vaccinated teachers eligible for these benefits?

    Vaccines prevent serious illness, hospitalization and death, and decrease the chances of an employee spreading the virus which is in furtherance of public health and means that schools will be able to operate more consistently over time, with fewer staff in need of sick time. Vaccinations are widely available through many publicly available sources.==

    Hence, Why aren’t Vaccinated State Employees eligible for these benefits either? (And in this case, boosted). We still have to go to likely germ and virus breeding state offices in person during this time.


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