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Proviso Probe

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

D209 bullies support staff union; union leadership ducks fighting for its members

I only covered one aspect of Monday's meeting of the Proviso Township High Schools (District 209) board of education.

I didn't cover the lay-offs that are being discussed for the support staff union. There are about 200 D209 employees part of this union.

The unions members voted against accepting furloughs to protect jobs, so management came back and announced it will be cutting 26-30 positions.

The furlough plan called for union members accepting a 3.8% cut in salary with not cuts in benefits. But the staff reduction plan calls for cutting the work force by 13-15%. And cutting entire employees means cutting the expenses of health benefits too.

It seems like management is engaged in some amount of intimidation--take the salary cuts or else--and probably going to use the cuts to punish enemies and reward allies.

According the one member of the union, the union rep is saying the union won't fight management because the steward, Ida Chester, supports management's position.

Of course, people are saying Ida Chester has been bought off by management. But Ida Chester isn't really the issue.

When a union member pays union dues s/he is paying the salaries of the union president and the unions reps. The union members have a contract with their union. The union is obligated to fight for the members and enforce the collective bargaining agreement.

For the union to blame the shop steward is lame. Picture a traditional manufacturing union. If employee X doesn't get along with his/her shop steward, it's not like s/he's forfeited the protections of the collective bargaining agreement. Filing a grievance may go more smoothly if X has a good relationship with the steward, but X doesn't lose the right to file a grievance because s/he doesn't get along with the steward.

Here's what a friend in unions once told me. If you really want to get the attention of the president of your union, inform her/him that you plan to run against her/him in the next election.

And, if a D209 employee did run against the president of the various locals, s/he'd have a pretty strong case that the union wasn't making a serious effort to fight for the members at D209.

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  • Ms. Chester was offered a position making close to 50K. Remember she worked as a Tapp Coordinator making a nice salary, even though she has no background, education, etc. in social work or counseling. THe support staff union knew that deals were being made to keep certain employees that's why they voted the way they did. Maintenance was in a win win situation, they accepted the furlough because they knew they would make up the 10 day's in overtime pay. Security voted against the furlough because they knew that the school can't function with them, and most of the new hires are Welch family members. So guess what, that left, the secretaries and aides on the chopping block. The principals of each building are in the process of choosing who they want to keep on staff. Rumor is that it's not based on senority and some employees (already making less than the new hires) are expected to take a pay cut and lose health benefits, while others (friends of the board) are expected to stay in their positions even though they have less seniority and skills.
    At the last support staff meeting there was utter confusion because non of the executive board made it clear what a vote of yes or no would mean. Different people and different interpretations and the Tom Smith was of no help as usual. THere were several motions made, including the ouster of Ms. Chester. Most people were just sick and tired of administration and the board playing GOD. People who have 8-20+ years of seniority and excellent work ethics should not have to pay for mismangement of funds, patronage jobs, etc. The people of the community should be outraged. The fight has just begun.

    By Anonymous Ms.Jackson, at 3:14 PM, November 23, 2007  


    Question: Why does Shavonne Henry keep her job as the secretary of the Special Ed. Director? She can't type and has no skills as a secretary. Proviso has not had a director of special ed. in a year, so what has she been doing or NOT DOING! They did just hire Diona Kelly as coordinator, but she is the asst principal of West and coordinator. Go figure, Proviso is screwed up! Also, how does Carla Johnson maintain a job that the district pays her salary? Shouldn't the fundraising committee/bullshit committe (excuse to give her a job)pay her salary?
    Also, how does Shavonne Henry and Carla Johnson become apart of the union? They are a both special payroll jobs.

    People should not be mad a Chester. She is trying to stay a float in this district. Yes, she contributed to Gene and Welch's campaigns, but so what, who hasn't! Look how they are screwing people over that were on their team. The problem exists with our elected officals: Chris Welch, Robin Foreman, Sue Reatha Henry, Bob Cox, Dan Adams, and Eugene Moore. Brian Cross can't win an election, so we don't have to worry about him running and winning that's why they appointed him. When we rid Proviso of these crooks then we can get rid of Libka and get a certified knowledgeable supt. in there.

    Where is Kim Lightford and Karen Yarbrough? Did anyone contact then to let them know about Proviso and its corruptness?

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 1:42 PM, November 24, 2007  

  • Ms Jackson,
    I'm glad that there will be a fight. The people of the community are outraged but not at who gets cut. Those are inside deals and I guess unless it affects you personally why swould anyone else care.
    What the community is outraged about has to do with the tax dollars being squandered and the return on the investment of these tax dollars equaling failing schools and children.

    The voters asked for each of these board member including Chris Welch to be their voices at the school board level and they got what they got.

    Welcome to the fight that we all have that live and pay taxes in Proviso.

    George Bush says "fool me once shame on you ---fool me twice shame on me. I say, shame on me and you.

    By Anonymous AB of Bellwood-, at 1:44 PM, November 24, 2007  

  • What George Bush actually said was "...fool me once, shame on — shame on you. Fool me — you can't get fooled again."
    Much like with Bush, it isn't a matter of people being fooled once or twice. Where does the shame belong when you are fooled over and over again?
    Also much like with Bush, the problem is voters rely on the message that is being controlled by those in power when casting their votes, rather than bothering to think for themselves.
    Why aren't more people at the Board meetings?
    Why aren't parents banding together to demand the District 209 Board be investigated?
    Why isn't the Suburban Life, Proviso Herald, Chicago Tribune, Chicago Sun Times or any of the other major local media on this?
    There's a lot of shame to go around.

    By Anonymous Judy Brown-Marino, at 10:28 AM, November 26, 2007  

  • Speaking of Shavonne Henry. As you may be aware, she currently works at PMSA. I have come to learn that some higher ranking secretaries at West who are EXCELLENT employees will be let go, and Shavonne Henry(daughter of Sue Henry) will be moved to West. Whats the point of having seniority when someone like Shavonne who has the least amount, takes a job away from a great employee who has alot more time in position. IM SICK OF THE PATRONAGE. THIS IS ONE TEACHER WHO PLANS ON QUITTING AFTER THIS YEAR!

    By Anonymous pissed off teacher, at 10:05 PM, December 06, 2007  

  • Shavonne has been moved to Proviso West. I thought she was special payroll or is she now a member of the regular support staff? Either way, she is one of the last hires and should be on the chopping block in May..but we know she won't be.

    By Anonymous Carrie, at 10:21 AM, December 25, 2007  

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