Teachers and support staff in suburban Evergreen Park, Ill., are prepared to strike on Tuesday if last-minute talks between the Evergreen Park Teachers Federation and District 124 do not yield a contract agreement, WLS-TV reports.
Negotiations between the two sides began in April, but two marathon sessions last week still yielded no agreement. On Tuesday, union members voted 147 to 1 against accepting the school board’s latest contract offer.
The Chicago Sun-Times reports a meeting is scheduled for Monday at 5 p.m. If no deal is reached, 135 teachers and 70 support staff plan to walk the picket lines by 8:15 a.m. Tuesday.
At issue are wages, changes to health insurance benefits and length of contract. Evergreen Park School District 124 is offering a four-year deal, while teachers are seeking a three-year pact. There is also a dispute over how to use a $16.2 million reserve fund, and whether it will be used to help pay for any new agreement.
Union representative Denean Pajeau told WLS-TV that "there is no reason to put the backs of any budget deficit on the teachers and support staff,” while District 124 Superintendent Dr. Robert Machak maintains that the money is used “for a variety of projects, from technology to capital projects.”
A strike would affect 1,800 students at four elementary schools and one junior high school.
According to WLS-TV, a local library along with some other organizations are working to fill the void left by no class by offering child care and some lesson plans.
The potential strike comes on the heels of the Chicago teachers strike, which was suspended Sept. 18 following a week-and-a-half-long protest that kept the city’s 350,000 public students out of school in the country’s third-largest district. Issues at the forefront of the strike emphasized teacher evaluations and a principal’s role in selecting teachers.
The CPS strike coincided with a strike by neighboring Lake Forest educators, who were largely fighting for benefits and an agreeable pay structure. That strike — the first in the district’s history — also ended the same Wednesday after 150 teachers picketed outside Lake Forest High School for seven days, the Daily Herald reports.