“Hey hey, ho ho, these poverty wages have got to go,” chanted several Rockford Public School bus drivers, paraprofessionals, and nutritional service workers in front of Auburn High School Friday.
School employees were trying to make the final day of their three day protest count.
“We want to be able to work our fulltime jobs and come out ahead and not have to give up pay in order to be insured,” said Auburn paraprofessional Kassy Anderson.
“We do agree that our employees need to make more money which is why we added 3.6 million dollars in our new offer,” said RPS Superintendent Dr. Ehren Jarrett. “We also believe that as health care costs rise, our employees need to share in that cost structure,” he added.
Jarrett explained that the district is willing to increase wages, but says employees need to take into account the rising costs of insurance. He says the district is ready for a discussion with the union.
“We’re ready and willing,” Jarrett added. “We have not received any communication back from our partners at AFSCME about setting up future bargaining meetings, we’re happy to do it ,we are willing, ready, and able to talk,” he said.
Many parents told Eyewitness News they’ve been frustrated with the whole ordeal. Jerry, who has a grandson that attends Auburn, is a union worker himself and supports the right to protest. However, Jerry admits, like many other parents, the strike made it difficult to pick up his grandson after school
“The big thing is while the children are trying to get out of school with all their cars, parents are trying to pick up children and it’s just one big traffic jam,” Jerry said.
“We don’t want to put the kids out,” Anderson added. “We just want the school board and Dr. Jarrett to know we are worth much more,” she added.
Workers are due back Monday, however the district is preparing just in case the union decides to strike again.