Carbondale support staff, community members to rally for a fair contract

CARBONDALE – Today, the Carbondale Educational Support Professional Association (CESPA) and Carbondale community members to rally for a fair contract. The rally comes after CESPA submitted their last contractual offer to the Illinois Educational Labor Relations Board (IELRB) for public posting. The CESPA offer was posted on Wed., Sept. 11. Once posted by the IELRB, CESPA can choose to go on strike in 14 days.

“We are using our collective voice to stand up for our students, our schools and our community,” CESPA President Tricia Lueker said. “We are losing talented educators to other districts that pay more. This is unacceptable. Our students deserve better. They deserve the best. We need to be competitive.”

CESPA is referring to the wage comparison chart attached that shows that Carbondale elementary and middle school support staff are among the lowest paid in Jackson County.

CESPA has 111 members that are classroom aides, cooks, secretaries, maintenance workers, couriers, birth to three educators, behavior specialists and paraprofessionals. This is CESPA’s first contract negotiation with the district. CESPA has been bargaining with the board since August 2018.

“The board is trying to cut our wages and take away a week or more of our sick leave,” Lueker said. “We need to be paid a living wage. The worst part is, we know the district has the money to meet our requests without raising taxes. We’re talking about less than a dollar more an hour in some cases. The district is literally nickel and diming us, and it’s incredibly disheartening.”

CESPA’s next mediation session with the Board of Education (BOE) is set for today, Sept. 12 at 5 p.m. CESPA members will rally before negotiations in a show of solidarity for their bargaining team members. CESPA members will begin gathering at Carbondale Middle School (1150 E. Grand Ave.) today at 4:30 p.m.

CESPA’s public posting was made available Sept. 11 on the IELRB website.


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.

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