Evergreen Park teachers strike continues for 5th day after no deal reached in contract talks

October 9, 2012 (EVERGREEN PARK, Ill.)

Tuesday is the fifth strike day, but the district and the union are no closer to deal.

"I have come up with a couple "D" words: disrespected, disgusted, disappointed and determined to get back into the classroom," Evergreen Park teacher Carrie Berry said.

The south suburban teachers walking the picket lines were joined Tuesday by Chicago Federation of Labor President Jorge Ramirez, who supports the teachers' call for a fair contract.

"This is not an issue of whether or not the school district has money to do what needs to be done here. They have the money. This is a philosophical difference, and in order to help children, you don't have to go to war with your teachers," Ramirez said.

Bargaining went on for nine hours Monday to no avail. Instead of face-to-face, across-the-table bargaining, a federal mediator has been exchanging proposals between the union and the school district. Both sides still remain far apart on key issues like salary, insurance and retirement.

The latest setback in talks came hours after a packed community forum at a local VFW hall Monday night. Members of the teachers union were there to talk to the community, but district representatives were absent, they say, because of the ongoing talks.

"I'm very disappointed in the people that we put our faith in are playing games, and I'm tired of the games. We need to get this done," said teacher Mary Zofkie.

The teachers strike is sure to last at least a couple more days. No contract talks were scheduled for Tuesday because some of the school board members could not meet. So, negotiations are expected to resume Wednesday afternoon at 4:30.

"It was automatic, two days you're going on strike again. That's it. Kids are out of school two days and that's on them," said teachers union chief negotiator Denean Pajeau.

ABC7 Chicago has reached out to District 124 officials for comment repeatedly, but so far, no telephone calls have been returned.

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