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Teachers’ Strikes May Be Coming In Evergreen Park, Lake Forest

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Updated 09/04/12 – 6:49 p.m.

EVERGREEN PARK, Ill. (CBS) — The city of Chicago is not the only municipality where a teachers’ strike is looming.

On Tuesday afternoon, teachers and staff at School District 124 in Evergreen Park voted overwhelmingly to authorize a strike.

LISTEN: WBBM Newsradio’s Michele Fiore reports

Illinois Federal of Teachers Spokesman Dave Comerford said the soonest those teachers could go on strike would be September 21.

District officials and teachers represented by the Evergreen Park Federation of Teachers Local 943 began negotiations back in April.

As recently as the middle of last month, district officials were saying progress toward a contract was going well. District 124 director of business services Dean Gerdes told the Chicago Reporter that tentative agreements had been hammered out.

The major remaining issues at that time, Gerdes told the Chicago Reporter, were demands of increases in compensation for aides who feed young children with disabilities and help them use the bathroom, and changes to “just-cause discipline,” which allows teachers to dispute disciplinary action against them.

District 124 includes about 200 teachers, kindergarten through 8th grade, and Comerford says 80 percent of those teachers voted – with only 2 votes against authorizing a strike.

He says final offers have to be submitted to the Illinois Education Labor Relations Board by this Friday – and then once they’re posted on the IELRB website, a teachers strike could not begin for two weeks.

Comerford says a bargaining session is set for this Friday.

Also up for a possible strike are teachers at Lake Forest High School, who will walk out at 12:01 a.m. Sept. 12 if no agreement is reached with Lake Forest High School District 114, according to the Lake Forest-Lake Bluff Patch.

The union put out a notice of intent to strike late last month after talks broke down. Last year, teachers in Lake Forest worked without a contract and agreed to a one-year pay freeze before beginning negotiations that have proven unsuccessful, the Patch reported.

Chicago teachers took a strike authorization vote back in June, and will walk out on Monday if no agreement is reached with Chicago Public Schools officials.

Currently, sources tell CBS 2, the district is offering its teachers an 8 percent raise over four years and wants to form a committee to create a new pay system.

Teachers are also expressing concerns with teacher recall, feeling that if schools consolidate and close as planned for the year to come, veteran teachers could lose their jobs. Those teachers want a guarantee that they are the first hired back.

Chicago Public Schools chief executive officer Jean-Claude Brizard said officials are doing everything they can to avert a strike. Earlier, Chicago Teachers Union president Karen Lewis told CBS 2’s Derrick Blakley it is not a sure thing that teachers will walk out on Monday.

Tuesday was the first day of the school year for most CPS students.