By Ben Velderman
EVERGREEN PARK, Ill. – The two-week teachers strike in Illinois’ Evergreen Park School District 124 is finally over.
School and union leaders reached a tentative agreement early Friday morning and teachers are expected back in the classroom on Monday, reports SouthTownStar.com.
We’ll start with the good news first. The strike – which some observers expected to drag on indefinitely – was short-circuited by the strong leadership of the Evergreen Park school board.
Before the Evergreen Park Federation of Teachers walked out on students last week, board members warned them they would be forfeiting their daily salary for each day of the strike.
Union members had assumed that they would still receive their full pay by making up any missed days at the end of the school year, and were shocked and deeply distressed by the news that any make up school days would be taught by substitutes and volunteers.
The board’s determined stance undoubtedly weakened the EPFT’s resolve and made this resolution more likely.
That’s the good news.
The bad news is this: Outside of school officials and union members, nobody in the Evergreen Park community has any idea what the terms of the agreement are. Those details won’t be released until after the contract is ratified.
By then it will be too late for taxpayers to have any input into the deal, which will govern how the school’s budget is spent and how the district will operate on a day-to-day basis. Those are major details, but they’re being kept hush-hush until the deal is made official.
“With any negotiations, everybody gets something they want and you don’t get something you want,” said school board president Kathy Rohan cryptically, after the negotiations ended.
The school board did a nice job standing up to the union, but it’s doing a terrible job of treating Evergreen Park taxpayers with respect. After all, don’t taxpayers deserve to know what they’re getting in the deal before they’re told to pay for it?
Evergreen Park taxpayers should be glad that this whole unpleasant mess is finally behind them, but they shouldn’t be happy about their leaders treating them like children who don’t need to know what the adults in the other room have been discussing.