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EP Teachers' Union Authorizes Strike

Evergreen Park K-8 teachers vote overwhelmingly to authorize union bargaining team to call a strike. Teachers could walk as early as September 21 if agreement cannot be made with D124 over new contract.

Evergreen Park elementary school teachers overwhelming authorized their union's bargaining team to call a strike if a deal for a new three-year contract cannot be struck before the end of the month.

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About 160 members of Evergreen Park Federation of Teachers, Local 943, filed into on Wednesday afternoon.

Illinois Federation of Teachers spokesman Dave Comerford said that teachers rejected the latest D124 proposal on the bargaining table, and all but two voted to authorize a strike.

“Teachers see this as a last resort,” Comerford said on the front lawn of Central after the vote. “They’ve been very frustrated. This is the sixth time they have started school without a contract. It’s not a good trend or pattern, and doesn’t show a good level of collaboration when they simply can’t come to an agreement.”

Comerford said teachers aren’t asking for anything the district can’t afford, but could not site salary increases or other details because both sides were still working on their “final and best offers”

Calls to the school district office were not returned, but a statement on district's website regarding the last negotiating session indicated that both sides were still wide apart on salaray compensation, benefits and retirement pensions.

Both offers are expected to be posted to the Illinois Labor Education Board's website in accordance with state law within the next few days.

“Salary increases are minimal,” Comerford said. “Nobody is looking for a big raise here. We’re really not talking much more than a cost of living.”

Contract negotiations have been underway between the D124 school board and teachers’ union since April.

Audited annual yearly revenue statements for 2012 available on the D124 website show a $16 million amounting to about 75 percent of the district’s $23.8 million operating budget for five public schools.

Comerford blamed “overly conservative” budgeting which predicted shortfalls that never happened, causing the district to instead come out ahead at the end of the past five school years.

The Illinois State Board of Education requires districts to keep a minimum 25- percent fund balance of their annual operating budgets or face being placed on financial warning.

“This is an abnormally high surplus,” Comerford said. “The last five years have been some of the toughest economic times and yet they keep building the surplus. The district is still putting more money in the bank. The focus is not on maintaining quality jobs for teachers or quality education for students.”

There is a two-week cooling off period after the district and teachers’ final offers have been made. Teachers could walk out as early as Sept. 21.

“We’re willing to go to the table and bargain to get the deal done,” Tony Demma said, a speech language pathologist at Southeast Elementary School and member of the union local’s bargaining team. “Taking the strike vote is just our way of saying let’s get this done.”

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Angus Macgyver September 06, 2012 at 08:29 AM
EP Lover: thank you for a voice of clarity and reason. My 2011, SD 124 tax rate increased 16%. Why this discussion about drawing down the SD surplus to the teachers? Why not draw down the tax rate and can keep our families’ money in our families' pockets. The union argues they are entitled to the surplus; Hey a surplus exists, let’s spend it on us! EP taxpayers are the owners of the surplus and infrastructure, not a union. Compensate the teachers consistent with the non-union marketplace and decrease the SD 124 tax rate. Not to get off topic, but this conversation should also include Mayor Sexton’s near and long-term economic plans for the Village, which is part of this discussion… nothing another strip mall or Culver’s can’t fix. The EP tax rate increased 16% in 2011. Maybe SD 124 could get the Sisters of Mercy-less to negotiate the contract. I hear the retirees are looking for something to do…
EP4Life September 06, 2012 at 02:24 PM
Not juding anyone -not blaming educators for student outcome - that is a completely different issue. Just a comment that times are tough and education is not immune to these issues. Everyone who is expending a great deal of time and money to enter a particulary career has given a great deal of thought to the upside and downside of their chosen field. Your daughter had observation hours and student teaching experience before entering the workforce. I am sure she saw both sides of the job and made her decision. The point is, every job has ups and downs or it would not be a "job." None of us is irreplaceable. Many of us love our jobs, but had to move on either by choice or force. Also, admin. salaries are listed online and should be reviewed by the public, too.
EducatedEP Resident September 29, 2012 at 12:39 AM
We all have a right to our opinions. So let me ask you... When the district has a one million dollar budget for technology, why are they pulling the students from classroom instruction and asking families for more money? Why are all the iPads that the district purchased still in a closet yet administrators and the tech dept. are walking around with them? Why did the district purchase the lunch ordering program that stinks and the parents hate? There are so many "why's" that the district has snuck past the community since no on attends board meetings. Start adding all these numbers up. Really... If the teachers are greedy, then the majority of the community is ignorant of the actions of the board over the past two years. P.S. Worth Township is offering help to all those in Cook County who want their properties reassessed. News Flash.... EP is in Cook Co.
EP Lover September 29, 2012 at 01:05 AM
In response to "Educated's" remarks: 1. At my children's school, the lunch program is very well received. I think it's not accurate to say that 'everyone hates it'. 2. The foundation (for technology) is trying to raise money so that they can apply for matching grants. While $1M seems like a lot of money, it doesn't go that far when you think about making 5 aging structures fully "wired". Tecnology doesn't just include 3 quaters per year of a computer class. It entails routine use of technology by and for students in the classroom. 3. Worth Township does offer residents assistance with the process of appealing their property assessment (which in turn, drives their property tax burden). However, there is no guarantee that the assessed value or the property taxes levied will be adjusted for any individual taxpayer.
EducatedEP Resident September 29, 2012 at 02:26 AM
Ep Lover... Since I have volunteered in all 5 buildings, I know what goes on with technology. Have you? Do you know how poorly the "new" computers run? Teachers are waiting for the iPads. Where are they? Students don't get to use the classroom computers as much as the teachers would like because they crash. Many teachers are waiting for computers that were promised to them in May. You are right, 1 million is not a lot. But I sure as heck would like to see people as dedicated as you are regarding teachers' salary to be holding the district accountable for its spending of technology. A million dollars is worth nothing when it doesn't work properly.

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