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National Union President Walks D124 Picket Line Before Another Round of Talks

Leadership from state and national unions showed up today to support Evergreen Park Elementary School District 124 teachers.

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. 

Continue to follow Evergreen Park Patch on Facebook and via breaking news alerts for the latest developments. 

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
mamadontplaythat October 04, 2012 at 10:23 PM
Randi Weingarten's pay jumped to $407,323 between 2010 and 2011! You just have to love hypocrisy!!!
Evergreen Park Parent October 05, 2012 at 12:00 AM
Diane Cody was paid about 200,000 for 5 schools and Randi covers 50 states...we could debate all day!!
KB October 05, 2012 at 01:19 AM
He is president of an organization that oversees 1.5 million dues paying members. He isnt payed by local, state, or federal taxes. I don't see the hypocrisy. How much do you think he should make?
mamadontplaythat October 05, 2012 at 01:28 AM
Yes, we could debate it all day.
mamadontplaythat October 05, 2012 at 01:31 AM
SHE sure is working for the "little people" alright!
Charles Johnson October 05, 2012 at 02:28 AM
Apparently the media coverage has finally reached sufficient critical mass to justify an appearance by Randi Weingarten.
EPMom October 05, 2012 at 01:17 PM
Someone needs to at least mention the overwhelming residency problem we face as parents and taxpayers. Also, what about the foreclosure rates in our village? Who pays the taxes on those properties, and how much of a deficit is that on the amount that goes into our schools? Both issues do indeed affect our schools and teachers, but nobody wants to talk about it. I want the teachers to get their raises and what they deserve as professionals. But, my taxes keep going up, and the kids keep going down in educational values.
RetiredCPS100%4TeacherEvaluations October 05, 2012 at 01:19 PM
I'm a resident who pays astronomical taxes but find it strange that the picket lines fail to adorn a fair representation of the current EP population which is at least 33% African-American. Where are the minority teachers? RetiredCPS100%4TeacherEvaluations
TM October 05, 2012 at 01:46 PM
mamadontplaythat comes on ALL these articles and argues with people. I am so sick of this. She just sits there all day antagonizing people and belittling people. I don't know nor do I care who you are, who you are related to or what you do for a living you are a rude person. I understand you feel a right to be outspoken since you are hiding behind a fake name, which yes i know i am too. I think you need to settle yourself a little before coming on here and ruining peoples day with your negativity.
mamadontplaythat October 05, 2012 at 01:57 PM
Really TM, I come on ALL these articles and argue with people? I was the first one to respond on this article and I didn't argue with anyone. None of my posts have ever been antagonizing or belittling. I have said nothing rude to ANYONE unlike what you are saying to me in your comment above. I am not hiding behind a fake name and if you have "following" me like you claim to be you would know that my name is Cheri McKeown and I can assure you I am not a rude person, I am allowed an opinion just like you are allowed an opinion. What's your name? It is sad when I can make a simple comment and it ruins your day.
EPMom October 05, 2012 at 02:07 PM
The minority teacher issue is a great one to mention, and I have wondered about that for the last 5 years. It's also interesting that only a third of out teachers even live in the district. Both points very disappointing when this is supposed to be about the kids and the community.
Bruce Rapp October 05, 2012 at 02:35 PM
Bruce, My wife is a teacher in the district. I am teacher as well, So you know what side I stand on. Although not on this thread, it hurts us to see the negative comments about greedy teachers. My wife does not stand to benefit much by this strike. We are not near retirement age, she does not use the health care of the school, and she is not a paraprofessional. Yet she is out there everyday in unity helping protect these peoples rights. The idea that these teachers are greedy and trying to ruin the community is ridiculous. As a teacher with a Master's Degree and working for 9 years in teaching she makes barely half of the 6 figures that people speak about. Only administrators have those salaries in this district. We are not going to touch the 6% raises teachers receive their last 4 years because the administrators get that as well and they make a lot more money than teachers. (notice that is not on the chopping block.) However, she does work on average 9hrs a day at school educating the heck out of her students and often takes work home to grade and prepare lessons. I cannot tell you how many times she has been up grading papers until 1 a.m. and then teaching again the morning. Finally, unions do not protect lazy teachers they simply make the administrators use due process to fire teachers. Administrators do not want to go through that process to remove them. Whose lazy?
Dan October 05, 2012 at 04:34 PM
Hi Bruce-----Questions for you----Do you feel the taxpayers and parents should receive a property tax credit or lower next year tax levy because of "Services not provided due to a Work Stoppage" not unlike credits or refunds to people who do not receive services paid for due to a Work Stoppage or Strike in the private sector. 2nd question do you feel the work stoppage(strike) is an "emergency situation" for the School District and that all cost associated with it should be paid for using the districts reserves or do you feel the parents and taxpayers should just pay for the "work stoppage" and all cost associated with it.
Bruce Rapp October 05, 2012 at 05:37 PM
I believe that a "work stoppage" is an "emergency situation" afforded to us through our constitutional rights and moreover has been a precedent set throughout years of turmoil when big business ran this country. It is our way as workers to unite and have an equal opportunity to help shape our working environment. Having said that, I can see where with teachers and a school board emotions and points of view change. Never the less, unions help regulate working conditions in order to provide fairness to everyone. Fairness even for the secretaries and paraprofessionals who make 11,000 dollars a year. I made more in college with a part time job. Now to answer your first question...If the district is worried about being fiscally sound, why would they give up state funding by not making up those days? Not to sound like a politician and not answer the question, but do you think if the teachers took a soft freeze (no raises) the school board would reduce the tax cap to give the residents a break? Finally, I am tired of people using the argument that their insurance has gone up, why doesn't every bodies. I wish everyone had a body of people that could argue in their favor to help prevent the people who do the most and are the lifeblood of this country from paying the most for everything. That is why I support unions and I am proud to say that I am part of one.
mamadontplaythat October 05, 2012 at 05:56 PM
Bruce, Your posts are nice and I can actually think about your point of view. Thanks for being a normal adult and telling your point of view. I do just have one question and people could think it is silly if they want but why did those secretaries and paraprofessionals take a job if it paid so "terribly"? Didn't they know what they were going to make when they got the job?
Dan October 05, 2012 at 08:21 PM
Hi Bruce---Just two simple questions-- Many would value and appreciate two simple answers to the questions and not deflect to other topics. One other question would be on you statement of "Emergency Situation afforded to us through our constitutional rights". who is the "us" you are refering too--Is it the parents and taxpayers in the School District or the Teachers Union.
R Gibbons October 06, 2012 at 12:14 AM
Yes they did and thank God for them. So when you think of your kids eating lunch or playing on the playground think of those paraprofessionals. When you call your child into school sick, think of those paraprofessionals and secretaries. When your child needs medicine in the middle of the day, think of those paraprofessionals and secretaries. When your child needs a library book, help finding research books, working in the computer lab, think of those paraprofessionals and secretaries. When the Special Needs student needs an aide, think of those paraprofessionals and secretaries. These are a small portion of what help runs a school. Instead of asking "why did…take a job if it paid so terribly?", maybe you should thank God that there are such involved individuals that have passed their background and fingerprinting so they could be there for your child everyday. And these are the people that have a entry pay of $10.00 per hour. It would seem that Walmart cherishes their employees more. I on the other hand appreciate the teachers, secretaries, and paraprofessionals. I support each and every one of these hardworking, dedicated individuals! And I thank God for them.
mamadontplaythat October 06, 2012 at 01:56 AM
R Gibbons, my point was that I don't see the sense in complaining about something that they knew about when they went into it.
Proud EP Resident October 06, 2012 at 02:36 AM
Maybe if there was trust and a rapport between the school board and the teachers we wouldn't have such nasty negotiations. I really hope this community can heal from this mess. It's all about perspective. Of course the board is going to believe in what they think is fair. On the flip side the teacher's union is going to stand by what they think is right. There's no right or wrong. In this circumstance, however there is no relationship to set grounds to negotiate in good faith. Effective leadership is a top down approach. Good leaders motivate and inspire. I'm not sure if we have that on our board. We just obviously have some board members who are really good at crunching numbers and telling staff members to get new jobs. I am sickened by the whole situation and hope our community can recover.
R Gibbons October 06, 2012 at 02:48 AM
I hear them trying to get a fair wage for a job well served. There is a difference. Every single person working negotiates their salary. And after time when they become proficient in their job, they seek a higher salary to afford better for their family and because they also value their worth. If we didn't have families to support, roofs over our heads, cell phones, cable tv, clothing, etc. none of us would have to work. We would just exist. After 17 years on the job would you be satisfied with a pay scale that only affords you approximately $15.00 per hour? I saw more people marching against Walmarts because they didn't think $10.00 per hour was enough to support their families while they stocked shelves and checked people out of the store. They demanded full benefits also. In this Village, I don't see people standing with people! I don't see people questioning why a Superintendent needs to make $200,000.00 per year but can't afford to give our paraprofessionals, secretaries, and teachers their value. Go out and really talk with them. They would love for you to listen.
mamadontplaythat October 06, 2012 at 04:18 AM
R Gibbons, If they valued their worth so much why wouldn't they leave a job that isn't paying what they think they deserve and go to another that will give them what they think they deserve instead of complaining? If I personally wasn't making what I thought I was worth in my current job and I knew there was no way for me to make more money or advance in my career I would start looking for a new job that would give me what I want. I wouldn't wait 17 years and then complain that I am only making $15/hour. You say that In regards to the teachers and paraprofessionals that "they would love for you to listen" but I would also love for them to listen to my point but in my opinion they have been brainwashed by the union. Proud EP Resident, I don't think you have anything to worry about in wondering if this community can recover. We are a very diverse community in our beliefs/opinions and in the end we will be able to see that everyone is allowed their own opinion and that everyone is looking out for this community in the way they see fit. Our diversity is what makes EP unique.
Bob October 06, 2012 at 06:08 AM
Bruce, I REALLY hope that you're not teaching students anything about historyor civics because your "right" to bargain collectively is NOT in either the US or Ilinois constitution. It was legitimized by allegedly Republican governor Jim Thomson in the early 1980s in the "Education Labor Relations Act". BTW, if you consider getting paid $62K plus for about nine months work, getting a cost of living raise on your salary schedule, and having the district pick up about half (4.5%) of the EMPLOYEES pension contribution and "emergency situation", you REALLY need to get out into the ral world outside opf the sheltered life of public education. If you did, only a fool would fail to appreciate what's being offered, and I'm sure your not a fool. BTW, I'm a former teacher at both the HS and College level and I've worked until 1 am grading papers just as your wife has. I applaud your wife for doing it, but you know as well as I do that MANY teachers don't do that...they use punch card multiple choice questions, don't actualy GRADE homework, they just "check it in" and some teachers, even those in math and science, don't even bother to give partial credit on highly computational tests because they're too darn lazy to make the effort. That's largely the case in HS D230, even for teachers making $120K per nine months!
Bob October 06, 2012 at 06:17 AM
"Never the less, unions help regulate working conditions in order to provide fairness to everyone." You're really not serious about this, are you? The unions set up a system that is a DISGRACE if you believe in "equal pay for equal work!" Most studies, and I'll get you some citations if you wish, show that experience beyond 7 years adds little value to the students, yet in most public school districts senior faculty make 50% to 100% more than teachers with that experience with the same course and student load. Only in the biased mind of a union zealot could that be considered "fair" There's also the issue of the "value" of advanced education degrees for which far too much additional compenstion is provided. The studies I've read have shown it makes little difference to have advanced degrees, except in math and science where there IS a positive difference...but only when the advanced degree is in the subject area and NOT AN EDUCATION DEGREE!
Bob October 06, 2012 at 06:25 AM
There's a simple reason that public school teachers rarely leave for a higher paying teaching job, mama. The unions selfishly prevent their districts from bridging all their experience from other districts for new employees, and the senior faculty in the unions consider all the funding "theirs" and they REALLY don't like seeing it spent on "outsiders", even if they are clearly better educators than the existing staff. Rarely could a teacher with more than 7 years experience go elsewhere for a raise because there's no market for highly paid teachers and the unions resent losing a penny on upgrading faculty. Sad...but unfortunately true!
Concerned October 06, 2012 at 12:46 PM
How can there be trust and rapport between the teachers and the board when the union is in the middle? It is the unions job to cause struggle between the two parties, because it is in the unions best interest to take as much money as it can from each and every district it represents. They need this money to pay all of their leadership six figure salaries and donate tens of millions of dollars to political campaigns so that they can create an even more favorable environment for their union to gain power. You can read about it here... http://www.championnews.net/2011/05/19/teacher-unions-give-politicians-10s-of-millions-in-contributions-politicians-give-teacher-union-members-10s-of-billions-in-compensation/
mamadontplaythat October 06, 2012 at 01:59 PM
Great point Bob!
mamadontplaythat October 06, 2012 at 02:00 PM
Great point Concerned! Thanks for sharing the article.
Chris Jenner October 07, 2012 at 11:51 PM
"This school district is being cynical and malevolent by trying to use the current tough times to basically punish the teachers," Weingarten said. Asking the teachers to experience what the rest of the workforce and community are experiencing is punishment?
mamadontplaythat October 08, 2012 at 02:52 AM
Chris Jenner, I wish the patch had a like button for your comment ;)
Concerned October 09, 2012 at 03:11 PM
I think it's time to let the EPFT know that the silent majority exists, contrary to what you may think after reading the above article. Please continue to email the board (d124.org) with your support, but now also send an email to epft124@gmail.com.

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