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Support staff union at Crystal Lake District 47 reaches agreement with administration, nabbing raises for over 100 support staff

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After an arduous school year, Crystal Lake Association of Support Staff reached an agreement with Crystal Lake Community Unit School District 47 after filing an unfair labor practice against district administrators who retained a recruiting firm to hire temporary employees. The union said the move in October was illegal and they weren’t given notice.

“This is a big win for us, as paraprofessionals, but also for the students we work with,” said Stephanie Lieurance, union president of CLASS and a learning resource paraprofessional at South Elementary. “This was a long time coming, and I think we just showed the district and the surrounding districts that even though you may not have a ton of numbers in your favor, if something is not right, you need to stand up for it and we did that.”

Last fall, the union learned district officials had hired Sunbelt Staffing to fill 21 open positions. The agency was earning up to $65 for every hour a temporary employee works, according to a contract obtained by the Tribune. The union said the rate was more than four times as much as newly hired, permanent paraprofessionals make. Before the agreement, starting pay for newly hired paraprofessionals at District 47 was $16.14 an hour, while starting pay for temporary paraprofessionals tapped by the staffing agency was between $30 and $35 per hour.

In January, Lieurance told the Tribune that the move was a “slap in the face.”

“Instead of coming up with thoughtful, long-term solutions to address these issues, the district waited until the last minute to bring in temporary help who aren’t committed to our students and our community — apparently they don’t have money to pay us, but they do have money to pay a contracted company,” Lieurance said in January.

CLASS dropped the unfair labor practice complaint per the settlement. Under the newly reached agreement, CLASS members will be given a $2,000 settlement check at the end of the school year and an immediate raise of $1 an hour.

The union said a 5% raise will also be enacted in July.

CLASS represents more than 100 paraprofessionals who serve the nearly 7,000 students who attend the 12 schools in District 47. Lieurance said some paraprofessionals have been in the district for more than 27 years.

As part of the agreement, the union was able to add an extra day of pay into their schedule to get professional development to train alongside the teachers with whom they work.

“Between the union and the district we’re doing everything we can to attract new hires and retain the current employees. And I think now we’ll be able to do that,” Lieurance said.

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Zareen Syed , 2024-05-25 01:32:47

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