Workers at OPRF to get extra pay up during lockdown

Board also grants Supt. Pruitt-Adams emergency power to hire essential staff

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By Michael Romain

Staff Reporter

Workers who come into Oak Park and River Forest High School while the village is in lockdown will be paid time-and-a-half. The District 200 board voted 6-1 on the compensation agreement with local unions at a March 19 board meeting. Board member Craig Iseli voted against the motion.

The pay increase applies to workers performing essential services at the high school — from maintenance workers making sure the campus is clean to the people preparing free and reduced meals for students to technology specialists fixing the Google Chromebooks that are essential for students to do online learning at home.

During Thursday's meeting, which was conducted on a videoconferencing service, D200 Supt. Joylynn Pruitt-Adams said the extra pay will give essential workers an incentive to come into work even as many of their colleagues may be at home earning paid leave.

"We needed to have some type of incentive for people to come in versus them saying, 'Well everyone else is getting paid to stay at home,'" the superintendent said. "So it was our way of incentivizing people to come in."

Some board members said the added pay also acknowledges the additional health risks that some workers are taking on during the lockdown.

 "I feel it's very fair and only reasonable to provide more compensation for those coming in," said board member Matt Baron. 

"Individuals that come in are being exposed to additional risk from a health standpoint," said board member Ralph Martire. "I think we should acknowledge that."

On March 18, Mayor Anan Abu-Taleb declared a public state of emergency and issued a shelter-in-place order. On Friday, Gov. J.B. Pritzker announced that he will implement a similar shelter in place order that applies across the state.

According to a previous Wednesday Journal report, "Under the shelter-in-place order, people are only allowed to leave their residences for 'essential activities, essential governmental functions, or to operate essential businesses.'"

D200 board also votes to give Supt. Pruitt-Adams power to hire essential staff

During the March 19 meeting, the D200 school board also voted unanimously to give Supt. Pruitt-Adams the authority to hire essential staff and take other measures that are necessary to the functioning of the district. 

Pruitt-Adams said administrators first presented the measure to the board before Gov. J.B. Pritzker used his emergency powers to waive part of the Illinois Open Meetings Act, so that public bodies across the state can conduct their meetings remotely.

"When we first brought this forward, we had not had the authority yet to do a virtual meeting and this is just in case of an emergency, where we don't have a quorum," Pruitt-Adams said. "This gives me the authority to make sure that bills get paid."

The superintendent said that now that the board can conduct virtual meetings, the emergency measure is not as necessary. Still, she said, the precaution may come into play if a quorum can't be established because a majority of board members doesn't call in.

"This only goes into effect if we can't make a quorum of the board," she said. Pruitt-Adams said that if she's not available to make critical emergency decisions regarding essential hires and contracts, then the emergency authority will be passed to either Associate Supt. Greg Johnson or Roxana Sanders, D200's HR director.


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Reader Comments

21 Comments - Add Your Comment

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Tommy McCoy  

Posted: March 24th, 2020 6:48 PM

Brian Slowiak I should have been more clear in what I meant. I would expect anyone who would be entering professions that effect others that they already had integrity before entering a profession. I understand the "no back up" in your profession although I really believe things have changed as testing has improved. I can understand the basics of just working a job and who you are working can effect the performance and that is a very difficult if not impossible problem to deal with although I think all is possible if given enough time to right itself through integrity

Brian Slowiak  

Posted: March 24th, 2020 6:16 PM

Police, Doctors and any other group are not qualified to hold themselves responsible. Only an outside board/group can do that. As far as the blue code of silence, that works both ways. From the inside there is an approach that I do not want to work with a officer thereby making that officer an outsider within an outsider group. Other officers will not assist the poorly performing officer, or help in any way A lonely dangerous existence.

Tommy McCoy  

Posted: March 24th, 2020 12:37 AM

Brian Slowiak There are a lot of very good Doctors and Police Officers. You may have heard of the blue code of silence. There is also a white coat of silence. You may have wanted to stay on that jury to listen to facts and you probably know about the Operation Broken Star which was a very unfortunate representation although it happens. It is the responsibility of each profession to hold each other responsible. That can be considered being naive in the real World although that is what I expect of each profession

Brian Slowiak  

Posted: March 23rd, 2020 11:02 PM

@ Bruce Kline: It is not your job in the medical profession to show up for work without any arm twisting. It is your passion. What makes a person think they are able to enter a persons body with a tube and in the darkness inside the body cut or burn out cancer, exit the body, heal all wounds and restore a person to health? A sure hand for sure, however passion is foremost. Passion makes medical pros rise above the frivolous law suits and unpaid bills to continue with their work. I got out of jury duty in a malpractice case against a doctor because I asked the judge who does the doctor see if the case against them is found to be baseless and who does the doctor see to get the doctors good name and good standing returned to them? Maybe I should have kept quiet and sat on the jury.Some doctors make mistakes sometimes, however mistakes aren't made all the time. Like James Earl Jones said to Kevin Kostner in the Field of Dreams, "I once had your passion Ray, but not anymore"

Ramona Lopez  

Posted: March 23rd, 2020 10:21 PM

Love how public "servants", make time and a half while I'm still working, but making my normal wage until this Friday at least. After that, I'll be living off savings and selling stuff on ebay to get through. It appears we only exist to serve them.

Dave Slade from Oak Park  

Posted: March 23rd, 2020 7:58 PM

"Pruitt-Adams said administrators first presented the measure to the board before Gov. J.B. Pritzker used his emergency powers to waive part of the Illinois Open Meetings Act, so that public bodies across the state can conduct their meetings remotely." holy crap! What kind of shenanigans you think will go on at these "remote" meetings?

Dave Slade from Oak Park  

Posted: March 23rd, 2020 7:55 PM

Bruce Kline - well said. "But then again, no biggie. Hey, it's other people's money anyway ... until you run out." And then you just raise taxes. So who cares? Unbelievable. Our generosity knows no bounds.

Tommy McCoy  

Posted: March 23rd, 2020 7:37 PM

Doctor Kline, as most of us are very appreciative that you are willing to risk your own health to save us, I never even gave thought to the hard working staff that keeps hospitals safe. They too, are at risk and do not receive additional pay. Thank you and to all who provide us care even when you are willing to put your own health on the line. That takes a lot more dedication to service then paying people extra money

Bruce Kline  

Posted: March 23rd, 2020 7:06 PM

Tom. I purposely did not acknowledge your post because as a medical professional it would have seemed self serving. But I agree with what you said. My fellow docs, and nursing colleagues as well as the respiratory therapists, and hospital techs and most importantly those in janitorial service and house keeping who keep the hospital sparkling clean and safe, all showed up. No arm twisting needed. Because that is their job.

Tom MacMillan  

Posted: March 23rd, 2020 3:06 PM

Another Oak Park crazy town moment, as we have to "incentivize" every public worker now with 50% more pay just to do their job?

Tom Clarkson  

Posted: March 23rd, 2020 12:20 PM

Bruce et al, in case you misread my comment, you can add me to the list of people that think the agreement is ridiculous. Just to be clear. - Tom

Bruce Kline  

Posted: March 22nd, 2020 11:09 PM

I agree with Sharon, Rob, Daniel and Kline. IMO, disgraceful. But then again, no biggie. Hey, it's other people's money anyway ... until you run out.

Sharon Mullins  

Posted: March 22nd, 2020 8:14 PM

If bureaucrats and administrators had to pay for this out of the goodness of their own pockets, they'd doubtless think twice before offering up 1.5 compensation. Their generosity with taxpayers' dollars knows no bounds. It won't amount to much in the long run, but it's just one more example of the socialist state of oak park doing what it does best.

Rob Ruffulo  

Posted: March 22nd, 2020 4:53 PM

Daniel Finnegan = GREAT COMMENT. 100% correct

Tom Clarkson  

Posted: March 22nd, 2020 3:22 PM

Some private companies like grocery stores and Amazon are only increasing hourly rates by 15% and those workers are not only exposed but they are working in crazy busy and crowded conditions...and their companies are doing well during this crisis unlike most Oak Park residents. The truest heroes, medical professionals, are seriously at risk and I haven't heard any strong arm tactics in compensation meetings with union representation. This agreement doesn't seem in the spirit of everyone pooling together.

Kline Maureen  

Posted: March 22nd, 2020 11:11 AM

OK, I understand the resentment among those required to come in to work while others get to stay home, but how about requiring EVERYONE to come in so nobody feels they are being treated unfairly? Maybe rotating days or something, one-third of the staff each day... And if you don't come in on your scheduled day, you're charged with a sick day or something. So many workers are getting nothing... Though I guess it's a moot point for this coming week at least since it's spring break - - so there shouldn't be any of this activity anyhow.

Daniel Finnegan  

Posted: March 22nd, 2020 10:36 AM

Here's an idea; no work equals no pay, just like the rest of us in the private sector who are employed by small businesses. That should create an incentive for those who do come in to work. Our rent is due April 1, we are out of work with no pay, but need to fund overtime for these folks. Stunning lack of awareness for the tax paying public's situation.

Rob Ruffulo  

Posted: March 22nd, 2020 6:58 AM

Absolutely ridiculous workers will get paid time and a half, while some people are getting no paychecks. Typical OPRF.

Brian Slowiak  

Posted: March 21st, 2020 4:33 PM

So, the school is "preparing free and reduced meals for students to technology specialists fixing the Google Chromebooks that are essential to do online learning at home" What are the students doing in a closed building and independent contractors are forbidden to carry in their own lunch? Gift cards handed out to someone who needs lunch (?) should cancel this problem. Have you ever been invited or accepted a meal sevred at the High School Cafeteria?

Sharon Mullins  

Posted: March 21st, 2020 8:53 AM

Thank you, Nick. "We needed to have some type of incentive for people to come in versus them saying, 'Well everyone else is getting paid to stay at home,'" the superintendent said. "So it was our way of incentivizing people to come in." SMH -- let's reward and encourage future such reasoning!

Nick Polido  

Posted: March 21st, 2020 6:03 AM

As our economy shudders to a stop people will truly suffer. When we emerge from this there will be immense economic pain for all, small businesses will fail, unemployment will rise. With this backdrop the board and unions take this opportunity to pay staff in a empty building time and a half. Never let a good crisis go to waste ?

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