CESPA holds rally, protests in favor of fair wages, fair negotiation

By Bethany Rentfro, Staff Reporter

The Carbondale Education Support Personnel Association union held a rally today to stand in solidarity with teachers to protest in favor of a fair contract and a livable wage.  

Carbondale District #95 support staff consists of secretaries, maintenance, librarians, nurses, aides and other non-faculty positions.  

See more: (Carbondale teachers poised to strike, negotiations underway)


CESPA has been working on contract negotiations with the Board of Education since August 2018, according to an Illinois Education Association press release. 

“Negotiations have been stalled,” Erica McGowan, CESPA Executive Board Treasurer, said. “We have tried to negotiate on several occasions, only to be met with a lot of animosity. We feel like [the district doesn’t] want to fairly negotiate with us.” 

Rana Schenke | [email protected]
CESPA union members protest outside Carbondale Middle School on Thursday, Sept. 12, 2019. CESPA stands for Carbondale Educational Support Personnel Association and members include school secretaries, nurses, paraprofessionals, librarians and other support staff.

In a press release from the Board, John Major, the President of the Carbondale Board of Education, said the Board’s goal is to agree to a contract that is fair for everyone involved and continues the growth that has already begun in the district. 

The union said they want a fair living wage and reduced insurance fees.  

“We want more sick days and more personal leave days,” Leatreasa Madison, Vice-President of CESPA, said. “We just don’t want that lessened. What keeps leading us back to the same spot is that we do not have a contract.”  

The Board said all financial packages have added to what was negotiated in previous years, and they have never proposed to take anything away.  

CESPA and the Board both want to settle the contract.  


“[Striking] is a possibility, but it truly is not a desire,” Madison said.  

If the demands of the two unions are not met after negotiations, they can choose to go on strike within 14 days, according to an Illinois Education Association press release. 

“We formed a union because we wanted to make things better for our support staff who works so hard,” Amy Weber, a Carbondale school staff member, said. “The initial counter-proposal would’ve made things drastically worse for everyone.”  

CESPA’s next mediation session was scheduled for 5 p.m. today. Results from the session have not been released.  

Staff reporter Bethany Rentfro can be reached at [email protected] or on Twitter at @BethanyRentfro.

To stay up to date with all your southern Illinois news, follow the Daily Egyptian on Facebook and Twitter.