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Carbondale elementary district avoids strike with one of two unions

CARBONDALE (WSIL) — After several hours of negotiations, the Carbondale elementary school district reached a deal to avoid a strike with one of two unions that could stage a walkout.

Representatives with the Carbondale Elementary School District #95 met with the Carbondale Educational Support Professional Association Thursday night and met for more than five hours before reaching a tentative deal, according to union president Tricia Lueker.

She said details of the proposal would be available Friday.

Dozens of members of the Carbondale Educational Support Professional Association rallied just before going into a contract negotiation with the school district.

"We’re kind of at a stopping point when it comes to financials. We barely started. We talked about sick leave and vacation leave, in which the board presented to us taking a cut in both of those," Lueker said before the negotiations started.

Lueker said support staff, like teacher’s aides, secretaries and maintenance workers, used to get raises along with what the teachers union negotiated, but that stopped two years ago.

Several workers voted to unionize in 2018 and this is their first time negotiating a contract.

"We just want it to be fair across the board," Lueker said.

The union posted its last, best offer to the Illinois Education Labor Relations Board on Wednesday, meaning union members can go on strike in 14 days.

But union members want to avoid that.

"We don’t want to go to strike. We want to be here for our students," union member Phillip Wallen said. "We know the relationships that we build with students will be impacted if we’re not there with them everyday so we definitely want to be there for them."

The school district still has not reached an agreement with the teachers union.

MORE: Carbondale school district, teachers union hopeful for quick end to contract stalemate

The teachers union could go on strike as early as next week.

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