More than 200 educators in the Chicago suburb of Evergreen Park are in the second week of a strike that began Oct. 1 after they were unable to reach a fair contract agreement with the local school board.
The Evergreen Park Federation of Teachers represents teachers, paraprofessionals and school staff who serve more than 1,800 students in five schools. The union has been negotiating with the school board since April. "We'd much rather be in our schools and classrooms, but the school board has left us no choice," says EPFT co-president Mariellen Newquist. "We've done everything possible to negotiate with this school board, including making concessions, but they've made it clear that they are looking to harm us, not work with us."
The district has a large funding reserve but has still met the union's concessions with hostility. Salary, health insurance and retirement benefits are among the key issues.
Parents and students have joined the teachers, paraprofessionals and school staff on the picket lines since the beginning to show their support and to ask the board to work with the educators and staff. AFT president Randi Weingarten visited Evergreen Park on Oct. 3 to show her support. "There is no reason this board, like Chicago and others in the area, cannot reach a compromise that will benefit kids and professionals in Evergreen Park schools," she said. "When we stand united for a better future for kids, ourselves and our communities, we prevail."
"Like" the EPFT on its Facebook page to show your support and get strike updates, photos and more. Letters of support and donations (payable to AFT Local 943) can be sent to the EPFT Strike Fund:
AFT Local 943
15221 S. 70th Court
Orland Park, IL 60462
[Illinois Federation of Teachers/[photo by Lee Balgemann]
October 11, 2012