About 75 Barrington Unit School District 220 support staff employees stood in silent protest outside Tuesday night's board of education meeting to draw attention to the ongoing contract negotiations between their union and district officials
The protesters, members of the Barrington School Employees Organization union, or BSEO, formed a human tunnel in the Barrington High School hallway, arranging themselves so board members would have to walk past them on their way to the public meeting.
The protester's silence was only cut once, when Board President Brian Battle stopped and asked one protester why they were there.
"This is why we're here," a woman responded, gesturing to signs held by protesters carrying phrases like 'loyal,' 'dependable,' 'goes above and beyond,' and 'mortar.'
"I would agree with that," Battle said before continuing on.
The two sides have been negotiating the terms of a new multiyear contract since May. Since talks began the previous labor contract has expired. The union members, which include custodians, secretaries and other support staff members, have continued working under the terms of the expired deal.
Recently, a federal mediator was brought in hopes of alleviating the gridlock.
Battle said he thinks both sides are motivated to get a deal done and that the federal mediator will help make that happen.
"We are hopeful we can get to a quick and fair solution to the remaining issues," he said.
The union said through a statement that the major stumbling blocks from their perspective have been salary increases and cost of health insurance coverage. The employee share of insurance costs, they say, will be more than proposed pay hikes.
"BSEO members feel the lowest paid employee group is being asked to sacrifice more than any other employee group in District 220," the statement reads.
Battle said the board would not comment on an ongoing contract negotiation.