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New Lenox Dist. 122 Support Staff File to Form a Union

NEW LENOX, IL – Professional support staff in New Lenox School Dist. 122 filed authorization cards with the Illinois Educational Labor Relations Board (IELRB) early today. The action formalizes their collective intent to form a union.

“The professional support staff in Dist. 122 schools are so excited to announce that we have taken the necessary steps to form our union,” said Chris Groch, Paraprofessional at Cherry Hill Early Childhood Education Center. “Working together in a union, the outstanding support staff in our district will be able to enhance student learning by helping to create a culture of mutual respect and cooperation between ourselves and the district’s stakeholders.”

The district’s 155 professional staff work as paraprofessionals, library aides, school nurses, registrars, technology support specialists, clerical staff, and custodial personnel. Their essential work supports school operations and provides critical services for students, parents, and their educator colleagues.

The new union will be a council of AFT Local 604, which represents teachers and other education workers across Northern Illinois and the Chicago Suburbs.

“Our local of more than 11,000 members warmly welcomes the outstanding support staff of District 122 into the 604 family,” said AFT Local 604 President Bill Briggs. “As the newest council in our local, these professionals will now have a powerful voice to advocate for their students, community, and colleagues. From the moment they begin negotiating their first collective bargaining agreement, Local 604 members will have their backs every step of the way.”

“It is heartening to see the support staff in District 122 come together to form their union and join AFT Local 604 and the Illinois Federation of Teachers,” added IFT President Dan Montgomery. “Union members understand that there is strength in numbers. When education professionals like these in New Lenox come together, they are better able to advocate for their students and themselves. Schools become stronger and everyone in the community wins. We are proud to welcome our newest IFT members.”

As the New Lenox Professional Support Staff Council of Local 604, staff will use their strong voice to negotiate good contracts that ensure transparent communication and decision making, provide fair wages, encourage staff retention, prioritize equity and inclusion, and ensure equal access to professional development and job promotion. All these issues are critical to creating a positive work environment where staff can focus on the growth of the whole child.

Now that authorization cards have been filed by a strong majority of District 122 support staff (in 12 school buildings and the district office), the IELRB is expected to certify the new union by no later than August. Members will then begin the democratic process of establishing the union’s governing structure and electing union leadership.

"We couldn’t be happier about forming our union,” added Rachel Tuley, Paraprofessional at Arnold J. Tyler Elementary. “Moving forward, my colleagues and I will be better positioned to have a say in our workplaces and use our voice to benefit our students and colleagues. It’s an exciting new chapter for our support staff and the entire district.”

AFT Local 604 represents more than 11,000 educators, certified staff, and paraprofessionals and school-related personnel.

AFT Local 604 is a local union of the Illinois Federation of Teachers (IFT), which represents more than 100,000 educators and paraprofessionals in PreK-12 school districts throughout Illinois, faculty and staff at Illinois’ community colleges and universities, public employees under every statewide elected constitutional officer, and retirees.



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