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Teacher Contract Talks End With No Deal

No school for D124 students on Friday. Talks will resume at 6 p.m. tonight as teachers strike moves into fourth day.

Energized by the alleged tongue-lashing they received from the Dist. 124 school board attorney just hours before, the Evergreen Park teachers union walked the picket line for a third day in a row.

The striking teachers and paraprofessionals from the Evergreen Park Federation of Teachers strutted, danced, chanted and circled Central Junior High School banging on plastic buckets and blasting a generator-powered amplifier system with the union’s theme songs—Bachman Turner Overdrive’s “Taking Care of Business,” the Pointer Sisters’ “We Are Family” and Journey’s “Don’t Stop Believing.”

The school district board and union negotiating team resumed their talks at 4:30 p.m. Thursday at Central Junior High School. The teachers union’s negotiating team broke their picket line to meet with school board members until another neutral venue could be found for contract deliberations.

Illinois Federation of Teachers field services director Deneen Pajeau said Thursday’s discussions focused on salary and insurance.

“A few proposals went back and forth … There was a lengthy sidebar between the board president, board attorney, union co-president and myself. No agreement reached,” Pajeau said in a text to Patch.

Teachers and paraprofessionals from Dist. 124’s five public grammar schools will be back on the picket line Friday. Talks are expected to resume at 6 p.m. Friday, at a venue to be determined.

The teachers union and D124 school board have been deadlocked over such issues as health, salary and retirement benefits.

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J. Doyle October 05, 2012 at 08:07 PM
I can only speak for myself when I say that, as a private school teacher, I have definitely not been walking the picket line with the EP teachers! I have been teaching all week, as I am expected to do, after I have arranged daycare for my kids. I sympathize with the teachers' desire to keep the benefits that they already enjoy, but I fear that in the current economy that is no longer a viable option. We are all paying for a situation we had little to do with. I have taught for the Chicago Archdiocese for over 10 years and will complete my master's degree this year. (Incidentally, I do not receive any financial assistance from my school for the additional education.) The Chicago Archdiocese offers a 50/50 plan to defray health insurance costs. Therefore, I pay approximately $590 a month for my family HMO. When our insurance premiums went up I had an option: yes, I will continue to use the insurance offered at my job, or no, I choose to no longer partake in the available insurance plan. I only mention specific figures because I feel we are losing a sense of perspective with this situation because our emotions are in play. The teachers are expecting the BOE to absorb the additional premiums, while the teachers continue to contribute a very small percentage of their own insurance costs, which I fear is not a sustainable plan for Dist. 124. I appreciate the BOE's determination to negotiate a long term plan rather than a short term solution.
Sarah Rees-Consiglio October 05, 2012 at 08:11 PM
Concerned, I had the same thoughts on the timing. I would hope that both parties intend to continue negotiations throughout the weekend. I will be very disappointed if nothing happens from Sat-Mon (assuming agreement doesn't happen tonight).
jane October 05, 2012 at 08:21 PM
The d124 are still out there after private schools get out. And I can assure you that teachers from many schools public and private come by to show their support. Teacher solidarity And the union obviously has every hope to solve the dispute tonight and to be in the classroom come Tuesday. That is their intention at every negotiating session.
Chris B October 05, 2012 at 08:29 PM
Actually, John the amount that the school board pays varies from one district to another, its a contractual thing. Boards may pay more into their teachers' pension accounts, and pay that teacher less or the other way around. The total paid is approximately 10% of the teacher salary. Secondly, my comment wasn't a complaint about Quinn, merely a fact. My vote is one of millions, and isn't your concern.
Taxpaying_Parent October 05, 2012 at 08:44 PM
J Doyle you continue to make perfect sense, thank you! Has anyone read the D124.org website to see the reason negotiations stop was due to the fact that Union submitted two proposals with no changes? The board made moves, but the Union did not. How is this fair? I pray that the Board does not cave. As taxpayers of EP we have had no choice but to accept the tax increase and figure out how to make this work. This is no different than the majority of EP residents, I will assume, who have had changes in healthcare, retirement contributions and have a choice to take it or leave it. I am now very frustrated that they feel they have the right to not have their benefits affected because they are teachers. The rest of the professions it is okay for them to have to make concessions, but do not dare ask a teacher. My children go to D124 schools and not all children are proud of what they are seeing out there with the screaming and the yelling. I have kept my opinion to myself, but my kids see the behavior and the tone of the situation can be scary.
Concerned October 05, 2012 at 08:49 PM
It didn't seem like the union wanted to end anything last night. According to the d124 website, the board submitted two counter proposals, and the union returned the same offer from 10/3 twice. If that's going to happen again tonight, the everyone should just stay home and spend some time with their family.
Taxpaying_Parent October 05, 2012 at 08:51 PM
I agree Concerned!. Do not "Call Me Maybe" if you are not going to have anything to say.
Taxpaying_Parent October 05, 2012 at 09:04 PM
They are planning a forum for Monday, I do not believe the Union wants anything to be resolved tonight.
EP Lover October 05, 2012 at 09:10 PM
I agree with you on all points Taxpaying Parent and also appreciate the perspective of JDoyle. Between the Union's resubmission of the same counter proposal last night and scheduling the Union forum for Monday night, I feel like the Union is trying to drag out this strike - much like it seemed like they were 'marking time until a strike' prior to last Tuesday. It should be noted that the Board's newest proposals for Health Insurance increase district expenses by almost $500K. I appreciate the Board's management of our district finances and hope whatever the final terms of the new contract are, they don't stretch the district finances too thin,
working at home with my kids October 05, 2012 at 09:15 PM
I came to this site to check for any updates about the strike and I see all this hoohah! Do ya'll not have anything better to do with yourselves? I'll wait for my phone call from the district instead of reading all this name calling and rumormongering. I thought the evergreen patch was supposed to be a newspaper not a gossip rag. My mistake. Get a life ya'll before people think EP is full of bumpkins and gossips.
Taxpaying_Parent October 05, 2012 at 09:21 PM
working at home, I am sorry ya'll feel this way about this lively discussion. Seeing that residents of EP do not have picket signs to express our thoughts, we are trying to share our thoughts with the Board and other supporters in the community. This is a public forum and everyone has the right to share their opinions. Plenty of newspapers have columns dedicated to that columinist opinions, because people do care.
EP Lover October 05, 2012 at 09:34 PM
It's unfortunate that there are those who are here to trade insults and issue derisive comments at anyone who expresses a dissenting opinion. However, there has been some good information exchanged here and many people are keeping their submissions fact based and civil in tone. Don't label all of us based on the behavior of a few of 'bad apples'.
John Galt October 05, 2012 at 09:39 PM
We have been discussing district 124. My comments were accurate. It certainly read like a complaint to me.
Perry Gnoid October 05, 2012 at 10:16 PM
@John Galt. Did the board make it clear that if the union accepts their offer that they aren't going to levy anymore taxes? No. The district will continue to raise taxes by CPI or 5%, whichever is less. Your taxes will continue to increase even if the teachers have to suffer. The board will choose to spend the money on other expenses that won't necessarily have any affect on education. This district paid their last superintendent over $200,000. I think if the board really wanted to relieve taxpayers, they would A). Make a promise not to raise taxes by CPI or 5%, whichever one is lower. This should be good for at least a year or two. B). Refund some of the 16 million dollars they have in reserve. If they are not willing to do either or both of those, then they are not standing up for the taxpayer. What is the current superintendent salary? Did anyone bother to FOIA it and his contract so we can analyze it. How many years of teaching experience does this man have? I can't find any reporting on this. Why did this district find it credible to pay one human being $200,000? This person most likely never interacts with a single student. It seems strange to call a teacher who earns between $40,000 and $60,000 greedy when the district paid a superintendent $200,000. The teacher interacts directly with students and the superintendent doesn't. Both are paid by tax dollars.
John Galt October 05, 2012 at 10:57 PM
The word fair by itself is meaningless. In order to have meaning, there has to be a comparison. What parameters are you using to determine what is fair wages or a fair contract? This is a sincere question, not an attack?
Perry Gnoid October 05, 2012 at 11:05 PM
Does anyone have statistics on the turn around in Catholic, private schools? I know many public school teachers who used to teach in Catholic schools. They left because of the salaries. I know many who are working in Catholic schools now who apply and interview at public schools. They are looking to get out. It would be interesting to know the statistics and then compare that to this public school district? It still strikes me as odd to call the teachers who have direct interaction with students and make less than $65,000 greedy when this district paid their last superintendent over $200,000. A superintendent is a teacher who definitely doesn't want to teach anymore. What do you say about to that? Teachers should teach. Doctors should cure and fix. Police should protect. God forbid any of these people be concerned about what their labor is worth.
Perry Gnoid October 05, 2012 at 11:08 PM
What percentage equals "shot up"? It would help the rest of us understand the burden on the taxpayer, if we can understand how much taxes have gone up. If someone were paying $3,200 in property taxes two years ago, how much are they now paying? Can you give specific? Did taxes go up greater than the percentage gas, medical, or food went up?
Perry Gnoid October 05, 2012 at 11:19 PM
What are your feelings about administrators having the district pick up 100% of their health benefits? And 100% of their retirement? Are they greedy. If you give teachers those kind of perks, I don't think you will see them out on picket lines. Is there evidence that the district can't afford what the teachers are asking for? You say the economy can't handle this. But if the district gets everything they want, they are still going to raise taxes to the legal limit. They have raised it every year. And some people who are making comments on here feel comfortable with the district having this surplus. They must feel that it is better for the school to hold onto this money and not the taxpayers. If the school board doesn't want to pay more, then they should make a promise not to raise taxes by CPI or 5% or whichever one is less. People in these comments keep implying that the outcome of this contract will have a direct effect on taxes. I don't know of a school board in Illinois that didn't raise taxes every year by the legal limit.
Perry Gnoid October 05, 2012 at 11:31 PM
Can someone provide evidence that when the teachers accept the district's offer that taxes will not continue to be raised by the legal limits? Your property tax cannot be raised more than CPI or 5%. And as far as I know, there isn't a district that has chosen not to take that option. It is an option. The board can choose not to raise taxes, but they do. Are we to believe everything that the district 124 website says? Are the teachers that awful that we are to accept the school board and the superintendent's side 100%? Taxpaying Parent, Do you have statistics on other professions that have had changes in healthcare? Are we talking about lawyers or doctors? Or are we talking about nurses or scientists? What other professions that require college and post-college and licensing and constant professional development has been hit hard? My friends who work in software, IT, and the medical fields have not seen this hit to their benefits that you speak of. I know many people have been hit hard, and that sucks. But I don't understand how making these teachers take a hit makes it better for anyone else. Show me the district's promise to the community not to raise taxes by CPI for the next two years, and I think you will convince a lot more people that it is fair for the teachers to share in the sacrifice. Without this promise, you will only see the surplus grow or you will see other nonsense spending.
Standing UP October 06, 2012 at 01:02 AM
I am just curious as to why you are concerned with the Union offering to meet with parents, as parents requested, any different than the board spending TAX PAYERS money to pring and mail out the proposed contracts PRIOR to the Monday night meeting that actually resulted in the strike. It is my opinion that this action showed that the BOARD had NO intention of resolving this issue before the strike occured. The Union is only responding to their actions in an attempt to get the kids back in school.
John Galt October 06, 2012 at 01:27 AM
Perry, You make some valid points. However, what makes these negotiations different from past negotiations is the fact that Illinois is proposing to shift the local teachers pension costs away from the state and to the municipalities. This would put a huge burden on school districts finances. For years, local school boards and teacher unions have allowed teacher salaries to drastically increase the last three or four years prior to their retirement to increase their pensions. This being easily visible at the website "for the good of Illinois, open the books". Perhaps the school board is keeping its reserves high in preparation to deal with this issue.
Elizabeth Codo October 06, 2012 at 02:25 AM
As much as I don't agree with the teachers walking away from their jobs, I have some questions for everyone (or almost everyone). How many of you (who are employed) have health insurance that your employer covers most of your premiums? If you answered yes, my next question: How would you feel if your employer said they will pay you $10 more per week, but had you pay your health insurance premiums entirely? If you don't like that idea, what makes you think that the teachers like it? I spoke with someone from the district a couple of weeks ago in an IEP/ISP meeting, and I was a bit surprised that the money that D124 has is FEDERAL funding. That being said- if taxes in Evergreen Park go up, wouldn't it make sense that the nation's taxes go up considering the district is funded on a federal level?
Taxes_are_high October 06, 2012 at 03:15 AM
Did anyone pick up on Perry Gnoid's comment? Administrators and THEIR FAMILIES get their medical insurance paid for 100% by our tax money. I'm certainly not happy about this benefit to Administrators. "Perry Gnoid What are your feelings about administrators having the district pick up 100% of their health benefits? And 100% of their retirement? Are they greedy. If you give oteachers those kind of perks, I don't think you will see them out on picket lines."
R Gibbons October 06, 2012 at 03:23 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.
Plectrum October 06, 2012 at 03:31 AM
For reference and context: The actual proposals from both sides: http://www.d124.org/index_stikeinfo.html Per the US Census Bureau: http://www.census.gov/prod/2012pubs/acsbr11-02.pdf 2011 Median Household Income in the United States: $50,502 2011 Median Household Income in Illinois: $53,234 Based on 2010 Census data: http://www.zip-codes.com/zip-code/60805/zip-code-60805.asp 2010 Median Household income in EP $53,514 2010 Median Home Value in EP: $134,900 Since comparisons are inevitable in these sorts of discussions, you also can get some interesting demographic data about EP here: http://www.zip-codes.com/zip-code/60805/zip-code-60805.asp Kaiser Family Foundation does an Annual Health Benefits Survey. The average annual employee contribution to their health insurance is ~$4500. http://ehbs.kff.org/pdf/2012/8346.pdf You can find a good overview on healthcare expenditures in general here: http://www.kaiseredu.org/issue-modules/us-health-care-costs/background-brief.aspx You can get a quick overview of FICA taxes here (Social Security & Medicare) roughly 12.4% of income, half covered by employer if you are an employee: http://money.cnn.com/magazines/moneymag/money101/lesson18/index4.htm
Perry Gnoid October 06, 2012 at 03:52 AM
John, If Illinois actually decides to shift the state burden of 9.4% toward pension onto the local districts, it wouldn't go into effect immediately. Any talk of this has always had language about the need to ease districts into this. There are schools that negotiated 5 year contracts last year before any mention of this shift. This shouldn't be the board's concern at the moment for two reasons. 1. Politicians from both parties do not like the idea of shifting burden to local districts, so what policy will actually get passed is anyone's guess. 2. If a reform does pass that pushes burden on local district, it will be phased in slowly. This contract would be up by the time of the burden. The other thing to keep in mind is that the other part of the pension reform discussion is the very possible increase to teacher's contribution. Teachers currently pay 9.4% of their salary and the talk has been to increase their contribution to 12% and possibly 15%. Using your logic, teachers should be fighting for even a larger pay raise knowing that the state could easily erase their entire raise with an increase to pension contribution. If you ask me, the state is more likely to pass reform that increases teacher's contribution and decreases benefits than passing reform that pushes state's burden onto districts. And if this is a concern for the school board, what is their game plan for administrators?
Rudy October 06, 2012 at 02:41 PM
Lol. Wish I was only paying $3200 two years ago. For a 1300 sq ft house in EP. now that you mention, medical has gone up...thanks for reminding me...so I guess it is not unfair that the teachers go up. But my point was more that the real estate value went down....so not good news if you claim that their hard work has sustained home values.
John Galt October 06, 2012 at 02:57 PM
Perry, you present the teachers side very well. However, your comments are misleading. Either avenue the state takes will lead to an increased financial burden on school districts. District 124 pays around half of the teachers mandated pension contributions. This was bargained for. If the state increases the percentage, who pays what will be bargained at the next contract? There is little doubt that teachers will ask districts to pick up a portion, if not all, of this cost. If they don't, they will strike again. The fact that any change will be phased in does not relieve he districts responsibility to prepare for it. I do believe the teachers desire for a three year, not four, is reasonable. By then, the variable of pension reform should ( I hope ) be known.
R Gibbons October 09, 2012 at 04:24 AM
Perry…thank you for that informative post! Sincerely...
Concerned October 09, 2012 at 03:10 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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