The Riverside Brookfield Education Association (RBEA), the union that represents teachers and other employees at Riverside-Brookfield High School, has filed a grievance arguing that District 208 has violated its contract with the union by not reimbursing teachers for some of the dues that they pay to the Illinois Education Association.

About five teachers have applied to have $40 of their dues to the IEA paid to them by the district under a clause in the contract calling for the district to reimburse employees up to a maximum $40 for cost of dues “for one membership in a professional organization in each school year.”

District 208 Superintendent Kevin Skinkis denied the grievance, saying that “Article XII, Section 7 is not intended for RBEA union dues” and finding that no RBEA member had sought reimbursement for IEA dues under this provision of the five-year contract until this year.

The RBEA is appealing Skinkis’ decision to the District 208 Board of Education in what is termed a Level 3 grievance.

Dan Monahan, a social studies and math teacher, formally presented the RBEA’s grievance to the board at the board’s Jan. 22 committee of the whole meeting.

“The RBEA disagrees with Dr. Skinkis and believes Article XII, Section 7 does apply to union dues,” wrote Monahan, the chairman of the RBEA’s welfare committee, in the union’s formal appeal to the board.

Monahan also wrote that just because no teacher had applied for reimbursement of IEA dues in the past is not a reason to deny the reimbursement now.

“The RBEA also believes the application of past practice here is erroneous,” Monahan wrote. “Past practice is used to resolve disagreements in the contract, and in this case there exists clear language.

The timetable of an individual’s submission for reimbursement is irrelevant.”

The RBEA says that the Illinois Education Association qualifies as a professional organization, so membership dues to it are eligible for reimbursement up to $40.

Monahan noted that, according to the IEA’s website, the organization “is an association of more than 133,000 members composed of Illinois elementary and secondary teachers, higher education faculty and staff, education support professionals, retired educators and college students preparing to become teachers.”

According to the IEA’s website, its mission “is to effect excellence and equity in public education and to be the advocacy organization for public education employees.”

The RBEA is a local unit of the IEA.

It seems unlikely that the school board will overturn Skinkis’ ruling. If the board denies the grievance, the next step could be arbitration.

It could be that this grievance is as much about positioning for upcoming contract negotiations as about this specific issue. The RBEA’s current contract expires on June 30 and negotiations have yet to begin on a new contract.

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