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Teachers Strike Goes On For Third Day

Meeting starts off acrimoniously when union team claims D124 school board's attorney verbally attacked, teachers claim. Another round of contract talks scheduled for Thursday afternoon.

Evergreen Park elementary school teachers and professionals will head back to the picket line on Thursday, after contract talks broke up in the early morning hours following nine hours of deliberation.

Members of the Evergreen Park Federation of Teachers bargaining team met at Village Hall for a hastily called face-to-face sitdown by the D124 school board to discuss insurance—a major sticking point in contract talks.

The teachers and paraprofessionals from Dist. 124's five public grammar  schools have been on strike since Tuesday.

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While some progress was made, the talks left a mark after the union’s bargaining team alleged that D124 school board attorney, Alan Sraga, verbally attacked the teachers.

“He began screaming at the top of his lungs at the team and being what we considered verbally abusive,” an angry Dave Comerford said, spokesman for the Illinois Federation of Teachers. “The teachers team should have gotten up and walked out, but to their credit they stayed.”

Comerford said he thought that major movement had been made but it did not come without a price. After what the union members claim was a verbal attack by Sraga, the teachers said they would no longer bargain in the same room with the school district board.

“Because of the attorney’s horrible behavior we won’t meet face to face with them,” Comerford said. “When it reaches the level when we’re so disrespected it takes away one more option.”

The federal mediator will now be going back and forth delivering offers and counter offers to each side.

“It’s not going to be forgotten,” Comerford added. “The worst part is that the board just let it happen.”

Both sides dealt in health insurance in an attempt to break the deadlock and move on to other contractual issues. Contract talks went two roads, with the teachers union making the last counter offer.

School board members’ called it quits for the night, saying they needed to “crunch some numbers.” The union's offer remains on the table until 5 p.m. Friday.

Another round of contract negotiations are scheduled to take place Thursday at 4:30 p.m., this time at Central Junior High School. The union’s bargaining team has agreed to break the picket line this evening to avoid having to drive to the federal mediator’s office in Hinsdale, while both sides hunt for another neutral venue.

Evergreen Park’s striking teachers are due back on the picket line at 6:30 a.m. today. American Federation of Teachers President Randi Weingarten is expected to drop by in the early after to offer support to the teachers.

Asked if the Evergreen Park teachers strike was going to be nasty, Comerford said that it was starting to look that way.

“I’ve seen some bad ones in 16 years statewide, but I’ve never seen where were tonight meeting face to face,” he said. “It gets heated and insulting but not to tonight’s level. I don’t think people will understand how that is.”

Because of the late hour, calls could not be immediately placed to the school board or Sraga. Evergreen Park Patch will update the story later Thursday.

Read Patch's ongoing strike coverage:

  • 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

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KB October 05, 2012 at 11:37 AM
Concerned, So you are claiming that that because teachers take a portion of their salary to pay dues that it turn pay for the salaries of the Union Officials, that makes the Officials public employees? That is idiotic. If that were the case, the supermarket where the teachers buy their groceries, the gas station where they buy their gas, the clothing store where they buy their cloths, are all publicly funded because the teachers use their salaries to buy good from them which pays their employee’s salaries. Union officials are not public employees. Teachers have every right to take their money they earn, and spend it whatever way they want, and that doesn’t mean the tax dollars are funding the people/places/organizations where they spend it. 124 teachers do not, by law, have to give any union any money. It is their choice to do so. They can choose to join another union if they want, or be an independent teachers organization. Please, go to the school proposed budget on the district website, look under the ESTIMATED DISBURSEMENTS/EXPENDITURES, and tell me the total money they project will go towards union representation for the teachers this year. You apparently have no idea what being a public employee means.
Concerned October 06, 2012 at 01:11 PM
@KB... Of course union leaders aren't "public employees", but the sole source of union income (that I know of) is from teachers salaries, which are paid with tax dollars. A teacher paying money to the union is different than them going to buy shoes because the union is a lobby! They actively work to get candidates elected who will help them move their own agenda forward. The unions agenda is not my agenda, and yet there is no recourse for me. I have to continue paying my taxes, and those dollars will get filtered through the teachers to the union. It's not like a business where you can not purchase their product or service if you don't like where they donate a portion of their profits (remember chick fil a?). Who is representing me as to how my tax dollars are spent in the union?
Concerned October 09, 2012 at 03:13 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.
John Moonan October 18, 2012 at 02:29 AM
http://southtownstar.suntimes.com/opinions/15794711-474/teachers-strikes-sign-of-future.html
EP95 October 18, 2012 at 03:18 AM
That piece is a riot, thanks for the laugh!

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