Parents worried they'll have nowhere to send their kids if both CPS, park district workers go on strike

Chicago parents are anxiously waiting to see if park district programs will be shut down next week on top of Chicago Public Schools. The park employees are threatening to go on strike the same day as the teachers.

If there is a strike, parents are worried they will have nowhere to send their kids.

In one week, facilities like the Leonard M. Louie Fieldhouse in Ping Tom Park may be shut down.

“I think it’s kind of sad because we don’t get to do our park district stuff,” said 9-year-old Cole Withers.

Cole and his 7-year-old brother Jude both have swim lessons at a Chinatown park facility, but those lesson may be halted if park district workers go on strike. A letter sent to staff Wednesday explains events will be canceled and the majority of fieldhouses will be closed.

“That would not make me happy and all of the other people who depend on these facilities,” said Kurt Hulsebus.

The workers, represented by the Service Employees International Union Local 73, are asking for pay raises, stable health care costs and better benefits for part time workers.

"We proposed a whopping two-percent increase after five years to begin to give people some acknowledgement or recognition that their service mattes and people coming in should see a light at the end of the tunnel,” said SEIU lead negotiator Larry Alcoff.

A spokesperson for the park district says they've negotiated in good faith and have offered significant pay raises over the next five years. Kyle McCroskey says with two kids in park district programs, he is keeping a close eye on the potential strike.

“We are here in swimming three days a week as well swim meets both this weekend and next…next weekend’s swim meet maybe in jeopardy so we will see,” McCroskey said.

The park district and union are scheduled to go back to the bargaining table Friday morning. That session will most likely go all day.