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Article updated: 10/15/2012 5:46 PM

Millburn District 24 teachers join union during contract talks

By Bob Susnjara

Millburn Elementary District 24's status as being one of the few Lake County school systems without union teachers has changed.

Lake County Federation of Teachers President Michael McGue said Monday that a majority of about 100 Millburn instructors signed cards in favor of unionization late last week. He said the unionization occurred in the middle of new contract talks for District 24 teachers.

McGue said District 24 was among the few Lake County school systems without an employee union. He said the union will represent the teachers in the current negotiations for a new deal and beyond.

"We hope to continue with the long-standing excellent relationship the teachers and the board of education and administration in District 24 have enjoyed," McGue said.

Average salary for Millburn teachers was listed at $53,321 on the most recent 2011 state report card. Negotiations for a new deal started about a year ago, officials said.

District 24's boundaries include Lindenhurst, Wadsworth and unincorporated Lake County. There are roughly 1,600 students in kindergarten through eighth grade at the Old Mill Creek-based district.

Millburn Superintendent Jason Lind said he looks forward to working with the union. He said the move may reflect how teachers are now expected to carry high workloads as part of changes in the education profession.

"I'm not surprised that it happened eventually," Lind said.

As part of the process for the District 24 employees to become union members, the federation of teachers has filed documents seeking official recognition from the Illinois Educational Labor Relations Board.

In 2010, the Lake County Federation of Teachers added members when more than half of 27 instructors at Prairie Crossing Charter School in Grayslake signed cards to join the union. Prairie Crossing's teachers cited lack of pay as the chief reason they became unionized.

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