EFFINGHAM — During its sixth mediation session this week, both Unit 40 and its Educational Support Professionals have exchanged proposals.

No details have been revealed about either proposal made during the four-hour meeting on Tuesday.

Patty Keck, ESP spokesperson, said “some progress” was made and another meeting has been set in June, after students are out for the summer.

Unit 40 Superintendent Mark Doan echoed that the teams met and “proposals were exchanged.”

The next session will begin at 10:15 a.m. June 11, Doan said.

As in the past, employees will hold an informational picket prior to the meeting, starting at 10 a.m. outside of the Unit 40 office that day.

“We are still working on wages, insurance and step hiring issue,” said Keck. “We remain positive and are hoping for good results on June 11.”

Members of the union include bus drivers, bus aides, cooks, paraprofessionals, secretaries, custodians, maintenance, mechanic and mechanic assistant, nurse paraprofessional, library clerks and warehouse workers.

The union, which has 130 members, has been working without a contract since June 30, 2017.

“If we need to continue, July 1 will be the beginning of our third year without a contract,” said Keck. “ESP feels that we are an important part of Unit 40 and we feel we deserve a fair contract.”

Keck, who has been working for the district for 33 years, said previously this was the longest she can recall working without a contract. She also thanked the teachers and the community who have supported them throughout this process, including those who stood side by side on the informational picket line.

Angela Williams, IEA Uniserv Director, is the staff's union representative who is assisting them with bargaining in all areas of a new contract. She also assisted the Unit 40 teachers negotiation.

The district took 13 months of negotiations to reach an agreement for the Effingham Classroom Teachers Association at the start of this school year in August 2018. The teachers contract had expired June 30, 2017.

“We want to remain positive,” said Keck.

Dawn Schabbing can be reached at dawn.schabbing@effinghamdailynews.com or 217-347-7151, ext. 138