Dozens of school employees plan to picket school board meeting in protest
SAUK VILLAGE — Dozens of school employees plan to wear red and picket before the Community Consolidated School District 168 school board meeting on Monday night. The employees are members of the Sauk Village Classified Union (SVCU) and are adamantly opposed to the district’s attempts to outsource maintenance and custodial jobs.
“The majority of our custodians and maintenance employees live within our communities and work here. Investing in us means you’re investing in our community. If the district gets its way, your tax dollars will be going to a private, for-profit company instead of staying in the community,” SVCU President Inez Jenkins said. “Combined, our targeted 17 custodians and maintenance union members have over 145 years of service. We know your children and we want to make difference in their lives. What the District is trying to do just doesn’t make sense.”
SVCU President Jenkins plans to deliver remarks at the school board meeting along with Illinois Education Association (IEA) President Kathi Griffin.
“There is a huge difference between those hired to work in schools as employees of a school district and those hired from an outside company to work in a building. The connection to the community, the pride in work and the care that the custodians and maintenance staff have in making sure students are able to thrive and succeed is something that makes these outstanding and dedicated employees preferred over any outside source,” Griffin said. “Take custodian Brenda Wolford, for example. She donates clothing to students because she saw a need in her school. Then there’s Raquel Thompson, a custodian who volunteers her time after school to help students in reading groups.”
SVCU is a local affiliate of the IEA and consists of 65 members who serve more than 1400 students in three different schools. There are no school resource officers in district 168. The custodians and maintenance team promote intervention that keeps our students and staff safe, and many of them have been trained to handle interventions with students.
“Our custodial and maintenance staff have a strong bond with staff community and especially with our students. Our students would lose those close connections already established,” Jenkins said. “Having strangers coming into our schools would affect those close connections. Custodians and maintenance go above and beyond their jobs by counseling and tutoring students.”
School District 168 has previously brought in an outside subcontractor for the management of the district custodial and maintenance and ground services, however, the district removed the subcontractor after the service provided was unsatisfactory and unsuccessful.
“The district does not have a good reason to make this shift,” Jenkins said. “Security is extremely important in all of our schools. By outsourcing our staff, the district would be giving up its right to control who is working with your students every day.”
SVCU members will be picketing at 6 p.m. at the Sauk Village Community Consolidated School District 168 offices (21899 S. Torrence Ave., Sauk Village). The board meeting will be at the same location and begins at 7 p.m.
The 135,000 member Illinois Education Association (IEA-NEA) is the state’s largest education employee’s organization. IEA represents preK-12 teachers outside of the city of Chicago and education support staff, higher education faculty, retired education employees and students preparing to become teachers, statewide.