Evergreen Park parents voice opinions in Monday strike meeting - FOX 32 News Chicago

Evergreen Park strike continues, parents frustrated, no deal in sight

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It was standing room only at a public meeting organized by the teachers union. The meeting attracted hundreds of parents of the Evergreen Park School District 124, where members of the school board were conspicuously absent. Instead, they were in a closed-door negotiation session.

"School District 124 teachers and professionals make less than all the surrounding communities," one individual stood up and said at the meeting.

Many of the parents voiced their support for the teachers, even with the strike now in its second week.

"As long as they're asking for, which I don't think is unreasonable, I will support the teachers," says parent laurie Peterson.

The 3 key sticking points remain: salary, health insurance and retirement benefits. In their latest proposals, both sides appear very close.

The union wants a 7% guaranteed raise for teachers over a 3-year contract, which is down from the 9.6% they were demanding last week. The school board is offering a 6% increase compared to the 5.5% offered last week.

When it comes to health insurance, the school board has agreed in the first year, to maintain its 90% contribution to a single premium and 75% for a family. Both sides are offering a proposal where the contributions will gradually decrease in the following years.

"It is our hope that every time we meet and negotiate, that we will get this completed and settled," said union co-president Mariellen Newquist. "It is our hope for this evening as well."

The current issue is how to spend the school district's $16 million reserve. So far, no agreement has been made since negotiations began in April.

At 10 p.m. on Monday, the union held a press conference to say that, "the team does not feel like any progress has been made and we are not even one step closer to getting a deal tonight."

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