DECATUR, Ill. (NEXSTAR) — Decatur Public Schools teaching assistants and security officers rallied outside of the school board meeting this week, calling for a fair contract from the district.
Both unions have been in negotiations with the district since April, and they have been without a contract since their old one ended in June.
“We’re talking about fair contract,” said Michelle Mitchell, President of the Decatur Federation of Teaching Assistants. “That’s what we’re talking about. A fair contract in order to help us to sustain being here and to help our students to be the best that they can be.”
Most of the contract negotiations center around wages for these workers. Both teaching assistants and security guard believe they are underpaid for the work they do.
“We want to be paid what we’re worth,” said Johnny McClendon, steward for the Service Employees International Union. We are in the trenches every day. We are the ones that children talk to, we are the ones that they look up to have role models in the school,”
The two unions were joined by statewide union officials for the AFL-CIO and the Illinois Federation of Teachers, two of the largest unions in the state.
‘We’ve got your back. An attack on one is an attack on all,” IFT Treasurer Cyndi Oberle-Dahm said during the rally. “We all live just a couple hours away and we’re all ready for a road trip. So when you need us, we’re here.”
State lawmakers like Senator Doris Turner also showed their support.
“I want you to know that whatever it is that you need from me, just let me know,” Turner (D-Springfield) told rallygoers. “Whenever you need me to come back, I will be back.”
After the rally, the union workers went into the school board meeting and took up most of the seats. It was the last meeting before mediation sessions begin Monday between the union and the district.
It is school district policy that they do not comment on ongoing labor negotiations, so the board did not acknowledge or react to the rally.