As negotiators prepared for another round of bargaining this evening, national union leadership arrived in Evergreen Park to provide a boost of energy to teachers on the third day of their strike.
Randi Weingarten, president of the 1.5 million-strong American Federation of Teachers, was joined by other local and state union leaders in offering words of support to the striking Evergreen Park staff.
Weingarten rallied the crowd with words of encouragement along 95th Street as chants erupted and passing car horns sounded.
"Their fight is the long term fight for ensuring that we have a high quality public education system for all kids," Weingarten said. "Not just in Evergreen Park, but for the surrounding areas and the country."
She says that this particular labor dispute is being fueled by a board that is not willing to engage in a productive dialogue.
"This school district is being cynical and malevolent by trying to use the current tough times to basically punish the teachers," Weingarten said. "What we know about public education and education in general is that you need to work together . . . they are going in the absolutely wrong direction."
Mariellen Newquist, co-president of the Evergreen Park Federation of Teachers, said that support from union leaders was an appreciated boost to their efforts over the last few days.
"It was absolutely positively invigorating," Newquist said.
Last night the board and union negotiators met at Evergreen Park Village Hall where they focused mainly on insurance. The meeting ended just after 1 a.m. and negotiators say the tone of the meeting grew intense after the district's attorney "began screaming at the top of his lungs."
Read: Teachers Strike Goes On For Third Day
Newquist says she is hoping for a more civil approach when negotiations commence Thursday at 4:30 p.m.
"We are not going to stand for anything else but respect in the tone of tonight's meeting," Newquist said. "We teach our children respect is part of who we are and we practice it every day. That has to travel up the ranks. There is a way to disagree and a way to be respectful of each other."
Today the district posted a recap of last night's meeting including the handwritten insurance proposals submitted by each side.
The statement reads that, "Due to the late hour and the need to access and examine additional data, the Board requested to recess the meeting until later in the day."
Newquist, a 28 year resident of Evergreen Park, stressed the fact the one-third of the district staff are also residents of the village.
"I am disappointed that my tax dollars help assist in paying for the board attorney that was condescending and disrespectful," Newquist said. "We are about trying to get this done and we have to be able to speak to each other in a respectful way.
Teachers picketing Thursday were hopeful that a resolution is on the horizon.
"We wanted to stay there last night and continue on," Newquist said. "It meant another day for the kids out of their classrooms and we need to get them back in the classroom."
A large demonstration is planned for 4 p.m. Thursday before negotians start up again. The Chicago Teachers Union sent out a text blast to its membership encouraging them to attend.
Read Patch's ongoing strike coverage:
- What To Do With Your Kids During the Evergreen Park Teachers Strike
- EP Students Join Teachers on Picket Line
- D124 Plays Hardball With EP Teachers Union
- Strike On: EP Teachers Walk Picket Line
- Last Chance for EP Teachers and D124 to Avoid Strike
- Scenes of a Protest: EP Teachers Stage Noisy Rally on 95th Street
- Threat of EP Teachers Strike Looms
- EP Teachers Set Oct. 2 Strike Date
- No Agreement In D124 Contract Talks