SPRINGFIELD – A union’s allegations against Unit 5 over the outsourcing of the school district’s busing system are moving forward.
The American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees Council 31, which represents about 200 bus drivers and monitors, filed an unfair labor practice charge in May with the Illinois Educational Labor Relations Board. On Friday, the IELRB’s executive director elevated that charge to the complaint stage, meaning AFSCME was able to present some evidence of its allegations, according to the IELRB.
The union accuses Unit 5 of violating two sections of the Illinois Educational Labor Relations Act, first by allegedly retaliating against drivers and monitors who opted to certify with AFSCME by outsourcing busing. AFSCME also claims Unit 5 was not bargaining in good faith, as it simultaneously weighed privatizing during contract talks with AFSCME.
Unit 5 denies those charges, and its school board decided last month to contract out busing to First Student, starting in the fall. Unit 5 officials say the three-year, $18.5 million contract with First Student will save taxpayers about $1.5 million.
Unit 5 and AFSCME will go before an administrative law judge in Springfield on Aug. 20-21 on the complaint.
AFSCME has also requested an injunction to stop First Student’s takeover. On Thursday, the IELRB will hear oral arguments on that issue at its 10 a.m. meeting in Springfield. The board could make a decision on the junction as soon as Thursday.
If it grants AFSCME’s request, the board would ask the Illinois attorney general’s office to pursue the injunction in McLean County court.