Union: Evergreen Park Teachers Will Strike On Tuesday
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Updated 10/01/12 – 10:30 p.m.
EVERGREEN PARK, Ill. (CBS)–Union representatives for teachers of Evergreen Park School District 124 left contract negotiations late Monday and said they will strike Tuesday.
No new talks were scheduled, CBS 2’s Mike Parker reported from the scene outside the bargaining sessions.
There was no immediate response from school administrators. Parents told CBS 2 they received automated phone calls from the district indicating families would be updated at 5:30 a.m. Tuesday.
Elementary school teachers in southwest suburban Evergreen Park previously made plans to walk the picket lines on Tuesday morning.
School district officials and the Evergreen Park Teachers Federation met for much of Monday evening at Central Junior High School. The two sides hoped to reach a last-minute compromise to avoid a teachers’ strike set to begin Tuesday morning at the five schools in Evergreen Park.
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Evergreen Park father Manuel Cumbas said, “I don’t blame the school board, I blame the teachers, because they’re just too greedy.”
Cumbas was dropping his 7th grade son off at Central Junior High on Monday.
He said, if school is closed Tuesday because teachers walk out, his son “will probably end up at library to study.”
His son, Manuel Jr. said he’s worried about “not going to school, because I really want to go here so I can have a good education.”
The local teachers union represents 135 teachers and 70 staff at the district’s five schools. Those teachers and staff oversee and teach 1,800 students.
The union said the district has offered teachers less salary and health care benefits than the previous contract.
Dana Wagner said, “I support the teachers all the way. I’m trusting them with my child’s education. They deserve the best.”
But another mother said the teachers don’t need a raise.
“I think they should be happy with the raise they’re getting in this economy. I have to be happy with what I’m getting,” Diane Pietkiewicz said.
Others were more concerned about what will happen on Tuesday.
“I don’t want [my daughter] to be out of school,” Angelique Robinson said.
Union representatives and district administrators shared their thoughts late this morning.
Deneen Pajeau, field services director for the Illinois Federation of Teachers said, “Every year for the last five years, they’ve been claiming budget deficit, but actually they … have a surplus, and they’ve grown their fund balance for the last five years from $13 million to over $16 million.”
But District 124 Superintendent Dr. Robert Machak said, “That money is earmarked for a variety of projects, from technology to capital projects. For example, at Central Junior High, the building itself is 85 years old. … The other part of piece is the pension reform at the state level, which we’re still trying to understand. My sense is that it’s not going to be a matter of if, but when local districts are going to be assessed a huge portion of those costs.”
The average teacher salary in Evergreen Park is about $62,000. In the event of a strike, Evergreen Park school buildings will not be open. Instead, several area locations will be available to offer students various activities and daycare.
Those sites include the Evergreen Park Public Library at 9400 S. Troy Av., the Beverly Arts Center at 2407 W. 111th St. in Chicago, the Little Red Schoolhouse at 9800 Willow Springs Rd. in Willow Springs, the Oak Lawn Children’s Museum at 95th Street and 51st Avenue in Oak Lawn, and the Evergreen Park Recreation Department at 3450 W. 97th St.
Machak said negotiations have not gone well recently. The district and the union have been in negotiations since April. The union rejected the district’s latest contract offer last week, by a 147-1 vote.
The district is working on a phone messaging plan to notify parents between 8 p.m. and 9 p.m. on Monday on the status of contract talks.