22 Aug 2014
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EP Teacher Contract Talks End With No Deal

Teacher contract talks end Monday evening with no resolution.

Evergreen Park teachers and D124 school board members left the bargaining table Both sides have been in negotiations since April.

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After the latest round of talks broke up Monday evening, the Evergreen Park teachers’ union issued a statement saying that both sides were “no where close" on a new contract.

“The board started this process with extreme demands for cuts and changes to the contract. Even with the recent movement they made, we are still nowhere close and we had no indication tonight that the board was willing to make the kind of movement necessary to reach an agreement … we will continue to work with the community to make this board understand that the cuts and changes they’re demanding aren’t necessary.”

The Evergreen Park Federation of Teachers represents over 200 teachers and paraprofessionals from Dist. 124’s five public elementary schools. The union rejected the district’s most recent offer and authorized a teacher’s strike on Sept. 6.

The D124 school board canceled a bargaining session scheduled for the next day so it could review the union’s "latest offer."

The union maintains that teachers' “best and final offer” hasn’t changed since Aug. 30, when both sides declared an impasse.

The elementary school district currently maintains a $16.2 million surplus, about 78 percent of the district’s operating budget and well above the state-required 25 percent.

D124 Superintendent Robert Machak told Patch that the

Deneen Pajaeu, field services director for the Illinois Federation of Teachers, that is working on behalf of the Evergreen Park teachers union in negotiating a new contract said it was the union’s seventeenth bargaining session with the school district. Both sides have declared an impasse and are now working with a federal mediator.

“We are not asking for anything that this district can’t afford,” Pajaeu said. “There is no need to make the drastic cuts that are on the table.”

Before the bargaining session, Evergreen Park teachers wearing their “solidarity blue” T-shirts turned up the heat on the lawn of They were joined by a handfull of Chicago Teachers Union members who took time off their own picket lines to stand with the D124 teachers.

Both are affiliated with the Illinois Federation of Teachers, which is representing the Evergreen Park teachers.

“I couldn’t make the [CTU] rally downtown,” said Elizabeth Schmitz, a CPS kindergarten teacher in Bridgeport. “I grew up here and thought I would come out and support this district.”

Teachers’ contract sticking points are salary increases, and health and retirement pension contributions. The earliest that district teachers could walk is Sept. 21.

Pajaeu told the angry but resolute teachers that the district's latest offer is different from an earlier version.

"But is not yet good enough," she said. "We will not bring to you what they have on the table."

Chanting, “we are one” and singing Sister Sledge’s “We Are Family”--teachers sent their bargaining team into Central Junior High on a buoy of cheers.

The school district and union’s best and final offers are expected to be posted on the Illinois State Education Labor Board’s website on Thursday.

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