Support workers at Palatine schools go on strike

ByLaura Podesta WLS logo
Tuesday, October 24, 2017
Support staff at Palatine schools go on strike
More than 400 school workers in the state's second largest school district went on strike Monday morning.

PALATINE, Ill. (WLS) -- More than 400 school workers in the state's second largest school district went on strike Monday morning.

Nurses, secretaries and administrative assistants are striking in Palatine School District 15 over wages, sick and vacation days.

Students are still in class and school officials said all schools will remain open during the strike.

Workers picketed outside Winston Campus Elementary School in Palatine Monday. The members of the Educational Support Personnel Association said they are asking for a 2.5 percent salary hike, enough so that many can stop working two to three jobs to pay the bills.

The ESPA represents 454 secretaries, clericals, classroom aides, nurses and sign language interpreters in the district. School officials are preparing accordingly.

"So this morning, we made a phone call to all parents. We also notified them Friday that they may not have nurses in the building. So if students need nurses to stay safe, we asked they be kept home," said District 15 Superintendent Scott Thompson.

The union said the secretaries, classroom aides, and other workers are not asking for much.

"It's a very, small, humble request. Our main sticking points are wages, sick leaves, and benefits," said Jennifer Elkins, a special education classroom aid at Sanborn Elementary in Palatine.

All items that the school district told ABC7 they are willing to compromise on. Negotiations only began Sunday night and ended abruptly early Monday morning with the decision to strike

"The ESPA leadership did decide to walk out without hearing a counter proposal from the board team. That's a little disappointing," said Deputy Superintendent Matt Barbini.

The discussion is expected to pick up Wednesday. So for three days, the 12,500 pre-K through 8th grade students in Palatine, Hoffman Estates, and unincorporated Arlington Heights will be forced to attend school without support staff.

The school district said that updated proposals for the new contract with the workers are up on their website for parents and faculty to follow along with the negotiations.