Update: 3/16/2020

Last night, IEA held an emergency webinar to update staff on the latest information from ISBE (Illinois State Board of Education) and IEA on the COVID-19 outbreak. The following is current as of Sunday night, and while some of it may change in the coming days (or even hours) the majority of this information will not change and is important for our members to know.

 

  • The most important information to know is that the expectation from both ISBE and IEA Is that ALL employees, both salaried and hourly, should be paid for the time schools are closed for the COVID-19 outbreak. Apparently the Naperville Board is voting tomorrow night about whether or not they will pay everyone for this time, but it was made clear tonight that everyone is to be paid, without exception. IEA asked to be made aware of any district who refuses to do so.

 

  • The ISBE has declared the closure as “Act of God” days. This designation means that these days do not have to be made up, and we do not have to use our emergency days. It also means that these days will NOT count as instructional days, and e-learning is not required. Each district is strongly encouraged to provide “continuity of instruction” to students during the closure. There can be no grades assigned to students for work given during this closure.

 

  • Schools are closed for education during this time, but the buildings themselves are not closed. This means that staff can be asked to come in during the closure to perform “reasonable” tasks. Personnel should not be expected to be there just to be there; they must have a purpose, and a purpose that can only be fulfilled while at school. The ISBE has left it to the District and the union to define “reasonable.” The general guidance is that at no time should a work plan involve anything that draws a crowd to the school.  The ISBE and IEA both emphasize that social distancing, which is urged by the governor and the CDC, is vitally important.

As 12 month Employees, NUMA employees (Buildings and Grounds) will be continuing our daily work schedule on our regular shifts.  Our Purpose, as described in the third bullet point is relatively clear. We do need our members to be aware of a few things:

  • NUMA bargaining unit members (B&G- Custodians/ Head Custodians/ District Utility Custodians, Maintenance, Grounds) are the districts resource for cleaning and maintaining our buildings and facilities as described in their respective job descriptions. Employees outside of these job classifications (example: Secretaries, classroom assistants, et. al.) are NOT to be given “busy work” cleaning or maintaining the building, outside of cleaning classroom supplies and the like (toys, instruction materials, etc.). We are not responsible for finding or assigning work to these employees. We may assist them as needed in related tasks, but it is important to keep the lines drawn between work WE are contracted to do and work that they are contracted for.
  • I will reiterate this point as it is extremely important: NUMA employees will maintain their regular work schedules. If an employee works second shift (or third shift, swing, etc.) they receive a stipend for that shift and we have to honor that. Spring break hours are factored into the “1st shift-3 months” part of this, so day shift hours during the week that is technically spring break is a part of that contractual agreement.
    • This is vitally important. We are a very small segment of public school workers statewide who are able to maintain a semblance of security and a minimal disruption to our work schedule and paychecks. This is thanks to our strong collective bargaining agreement, which is a give and take document. We expect The Board of Education to uphold their end of the agreement, and we will honor our side of it.
  • If any NUMA employee is told by a supervisor or administrator NOT to report to work, WE NEED TO KNOW ABOUT IT and we need to CORRECT IT. Everyone works everyday (Vacation days and sick leave aside, of course.)

 

This is current information as of Monday, March 16th 2020. This is an unprecedented situation and we all have to exercise some degree of flexibility as adjustments are made along the way, but the majority of this will not change.

I certainly hope it doesn’t get weird, but just know that if it does we will fight tooth and nail to ensure that all of our people maintain their right to work and that our contract is honored.

I will update you as more information comes, and I can assure you… It will come.

-Kevin Bee

NUMA President

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