DECATUR, Ill. (WCIA) — Teaching assistants are still preparing to strike on Tuesday, but they say they’re willing to go back to the bargaining table.
These TA’s say they simply can’t live on the money they’re being offered, but the school board isn’t budging.
“Why would anyone want to go to work and basically go home with $100 to $200 a week?” said DFTA Union President Paula Busboom.
275 teaching assistants have clashed with the Decatur School District. Efforts since April. Now, they’re making signs for Tuesday: the day they could strike.
“We’ve offered over and over. When we left on Wednesday, we offered to come back to the table,” said Busboom.
Busboom says the district is refusing to budge on healthcare, but so is the union. The current offer is asking TA’s who make $20,000 a year to pay $900 a month for health insurance.
“Would they take a job for $20,000 a year, not get unemployment, and pay $900 a month for family healthcare and be able to put food on the table, and be able to have a roof over their head for them and their family. My answer is probably not,” said Busboom.
“It’s a matter of respect and feeling valued, and when I am taking home so little, I don’t feel valued,” said retired high school librarian Connie Peters.
The school district responded, saying the TA’s rejected an offer that all other union members have agreed to. They said, “Our students and our families do not deserve to be put through the hardships” either in or outside of our classrooms caused by a strike and that they “hope DFTA members reconsider.”
“Tuesday’s gonna be a rough day — rough day on lots of people. It’s gonna be hard for all of us. I mean, these people standing back here — this is their livelihood. We don’t take any of this lightly,” said Busboom.
TA’s are asking the community to get involved in urging school board members to come to a fair deal. The union is planning to rally on Monday to try and avoid a strike. They’ll meet at 3:30 p.m. at the Keil Administration Building on West Cerro Gordo Street.