Teaching assistants say they plan to strike

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DECATUR, Ill. (WCIA) — The TA union president says the school district decided not to change their offer on insurance benefits with teacher assistants.

275 Teaching assistants are impacted by the decision and could strike as early as Tuesday.

A major sticking point in the talks has been the cost of health care benefits, according to the union.

Union president Paula Busboom told us last week the union did not want to strike.

She was hoping the federal mediator would allow union and the district to work things out.

Today’s bargaining session was the last scheduled meeting between the two groups prior to the October 29 strike date. The union already voted on October 17 to strike.

The union and the school board have been bargaining since April. The contract for TAs expired June 30th.

District representatives say they want to continue negotiating sessions.

Todd Covault, school district treasurer, told us “I think the only other comment we have is we hope that the teaching assistants don’t go on strike. That would be very harmful to the students. We would hope the teaching assistants would not do that to the students.” 

One teaching assistant we spoke to, Jennifer Parsano, says there needs to be a fair deal, because many TAs have college degrees, and are struggling to make ends meet. “There are some people in that building that have been teachers, they’ve been in the classroom, and obviously they’ve forgotten where they came from,” she said “I’m gonna tell you I raised three kids working for this district. I lived out of my car to make sure I provided for my kids.”

Earlier this month the district said contracts have been negotiated successfully in the past two years with unions that represent teachers, maintenance staff, security staff and secretarial staff.

For now, teaching assistants are planning for a strike. They have a sign-making party scheduled for Friday.

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