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Janesville teachers threaten lawsuit over contract negotiations

Published On: Mar 14 2013 07:08:45 PM CDT   Updated On: Mar 15 2013 01:59:34 PM CDT

JANESVILLE, Wis. -

Janesville's teachers union is threatening to sue the school board if it doesn't agree to contract negotiations.

Dave Parr, president of the Janesville Education Association, said bringing the lawsuit would force the Janesville School Board to the bargaining table.

Parr voiced his concerns Thursday morning on WCLO Radio. He said the teachers union thought negotiations with the district were going in the right direction until Wednesday. Parr said teachers at a mandatory meeting were shown a video telling them they had to sign a contract.

"The expectation is that every teacher in the district will sign a contract that is blank, and if they don't sign it by April 17 they will be terminated," Parr said.

Bill Sodemann, president of the school board, said a change in state deadlines and the uncertainty of Act 10 makes it difficult to negotiate because it's unclear what can be negotiated.

"The issue is negotiation of things other than wages. That's probably the difference. What we're saying is, yes, we will be negotiating on wages, which we are required to do. It's the other items that, because of Act 10, the rules have changed," Sodemann said.

Sodemann said that during previous years, teachers have signed the contract without knowing what was going to be negotiated.

Teachers who are considering retiring have to turn in their paperwork to the district next month.

Parr said the teachers are pushing the district to let them know now what their post-retirement benefits could look like.

The school board has until next Wednesday to respond to the JEA or the union will proceed with its lawsuit.

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