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Columbus teachers union threaten 10-day strike amid contract negotiations

The rallies were held while the CEA bargaining team negotiates with the Board during one of their last two scheduled sessions before the contract expires in August.
Credit: 10TV/WBNS

COLUMBUS, Ohio — Frustrated by the district’s refusal to schedule future bargaining sessions, the Columbus Education Association gathered outside of Columbus City Schools' downtown office to rally for a fair contract.

"A fair contract means safe, fully resourced, well-maintained schools in every neighborhood," said Regina Fuentes, spokesperson for the CEA.

CEA President John Coneglio said, “While teachers continue to fight for basics like air conditioning in our schools, the Board is threatening to walk away from students by refusing to schedule even a single bargaining session in August.  Educators recognize a bully tactic when we see one. The Board is trying to force us into concessions that will harm our students. CEA will not be intimidated. We will continue to fight for the safe, properly maintained, and fully resourced schools that Columbus students deserve.”

Columbus City Schools sent 10TV the following statement:

“Conversations with our teachers are ongoing, and finding a compromise is our goal. We greatly respect our teachers and know they are critical to the success of our students. We have upcoming full-day meetings, which were previously scheduled nearly two months ago, and we have and will continue to negotiate in good faith. Our commitment is firm to continue to find resolution, and we will dedicate the time necessary to have those conversations. We look forward to having our teachers in our classrooms in August when the 2022-2023 school year starts.

The Board agrees with our teachers that we should have air conditioning in all our buildings. Independent of and before the negotiations process even began, the Board took action to reach this goal, authorizing the use of federal ESSER funds to update HVAC systems in 16 school buildings.

Additionally, investments in businesses are made by city and state leaders because they recognize the strong foundation that a robust economy provides for the future. When companies expand or relocate to our community, they are creating jobs for our families and future graduates. We recognize tax incentives are an important economic development tool. Still, we expect our city leaders to make responsible decisions that address the need to provide much-needed resources to our schools.”

The CEA has called a meeting of its general membership on Aug. 4. If the board refuses to schedule negotiation dates in August, membership will vote to recommend authorization of the issuance of a 10-day strike notice.

Jessica O'Donnell, a CCS parent said tax breaks for developers are also an issue.

"That's money that should be going toward the schools is giving developers write-offs or reasons to come to Columbus. which isn't putting money toward our schools, and if they were, maybe my kid would have heat during the winter or not be sitting in a classroom that's 105," she said.

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