Evergreen Park teachers file intent-to-strike notice - FOX 32 News Chicago

Evergreen Park teachers file intent-to-strike notice

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EVERGREEN PARK, Ill. (Sun-Times Media Wire) -

After a frustrating negotiating session with the school board was cut short Monday night, the Evergreen Park Federation of Teachers on Tuesday filed a strike notice, said Deneen Pajeau, field services director for the Illinois Federation of Teachers.

The motion does not mean teachers will strike, she said.

"No one wants to strike. And, again, it's not our intention. It's an option. Not that we will invoke that option. But because of the state law, we have to file this notice," Pajeau said.

The next negotiating session tentatively is scheduled for Sept. 24, she said.

The latest proposals by the teachers and school board will be made public Thursday, she said. Those offers must be posted for 14 days, making Sept. 28 the first day teachers could walk out, Pajeau said.

The union represents about 200 teachers and teachers aides at five schools in the south suburban Evergreen Park School District 124. They started a school year without a contract for the sixth time in 15 years.

At issue are salary, retirement plans and insurance benefits, Pajeau said. She declined to reveal specifics.

Teachers on Monday night rallied outside Central Junior High School, cheering as their negotiating team entered the building for what was supposed to be a four-hour session. But it ended after about 1 hour and 40 minutes, Pajeau said.

"It was clear neither side was going to move to reach an agreement," she said.

In a news release Monday night, Illinois Federation of Teachers spokesman said the two sides are still far apart.

"The contract offer the union has proposed contains concessions that will save the district a significant amount of funding," the release said. "Even with these concessions, the two sides are still far apart. 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 that the board was willing to make the kind of movement necessary to reach an agreement."

The release said the teachers "appreciate the community support at the rally tonight and we will continue to work with the community to make this board understand that the cuts and changes they're demanding aren't necessary."

Supt. Robert Machak did not immediately respond Tuesday to an email seeking comment.

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