Hundreds of Educational Support Workers in NW Suburban School District Declare a Strike

More than 450 educational support workers in a northwest suburban district declared a strike early Monday morning after a 12-hour negotiation failed to end with a contract.

The 454 members of the Educational Support Personnel Association were expected to hit picket lines outside District 15 schools in Palatine beginning at 8 a.m.

Members of the association include secretaries, clericals, classroom aides, nurses and sign language interpreters in the district.

Officials with the Illinois Education Association said the group has been without a contract since July.

A bargaining session began at 5 p.m. Sunday, but negotiations were called off at 5 a.m.

“Our members work with the most vulnerable students in the district and also happen to be among the lowest paid. We believe asking for a 2.5 percent salary increase is a humble request,” ESPA President Angie Drazkowski said in a statement. “Those extra dollars will help ensure talented individuals continue to work within District 15 providing a better future for our students and our community.”

Still, Superintendent Scott Thompson said “great progress” was made during Sunday night’s negotiations and “the board continues to bargain in good faith with optimism that a contract agreement is in close sight.”

The district said schools will remain open despite the strike.

“Even though a strike has been called, ESPA members may choose to come to work. Because of this, we are unsure if nurses or program assistants trained to assist students with medical needs will fulfill their charge to care for students,” Thomson said in a letter to parents. “If any parent feels it is in the best interest of his or her child, he or she may keep the child home during a strike. If the parent chooses to keep his or her child home, it will be counted as an excused absence.”

Another negotiation session is scheduled for Wednesday.

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