Teachers and support staff stand outside of Carbondale Middle School rallying for a contract agreement between the Board of Education and the Carbondale Education Association on September 9, 2019, in Carbondale, Illinois.Credit Amelia BlakelyEdit | Remove
Teachers and support staff from all four schools in the Carbondale School District 95 came to Carbondale Middle School showing their support for their bargaining team members negotiating contracts.
"We are hopeful we will come to an agreement tonight and we can get back to the classroom where we are supposed to be," Carbondale Education Association President Melissa Norman said.
If an agreement is not, support staff and teachers say they are prepared to strike, despite not wanting to.
"That's the last thing we want to do," Norman said. "We really want to come in tonight and come back out with a contract."
Carbondale School District 95's support staff are also looking for a new contract.
Carbondale Educational Support Professional Association is currently negotiating its first contract. According to documents provided by CEA, support staff has bargained with the board since August 2018.
Teacher's aid Phillip Wallen who is on the executive council for CESPA said many times the organization provided comparison data showing the district's support staff were underpaid.
CESPA came to negotiations in good faith, Wallen said. But, when the Board of Education sent the association the board's proposal, support staff had lost sick and personal leave days they had prior unionizing.
"The board keeps taking steps backward with their proposals which is why we have gotten to this point," Wallen said. "We want our voices to be heard."
Wallen said support staff stands in solidarity with teachers. If teachers decide to strike, the support staff is glad to go strike with them.
"A lot of the issues the teachers are dealing with are the same issues we deal with in the classroom," Wallen said.
If a contract is not agreed on, Norman said CEA and CESPA can choose to go on strike starting September 25.