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Agreement not reached in latest meeting between Columbus school board, teachers' union

Presidents from the Columbus Education Association and Columbus Board of Education both released statements following Wednesday’s bargaining session.

COLUMBUS, Ohio — Members of the Columbus teachers' union and Columbus school board failed to reach a resolution during a bargaining session Wednesday.

The Columbus Education Association (CEA) and the Columbus Board of Education met at 8 a.m., this time with a hired federal mediator after the two entities struggled to come up with a resolution in their past 19 meetings. 

Both organizations hoped that the mediator could result in a resolution ahead of the school year. 

CEA has until tomorrow to decide whether teachers will strike.

Earlier this month, CEA’s legislative assembly unanimously voted to issue a 10-day strike notice. 

CEA spokesperson Regina Fuentes said in an earlier interview, "We don't want to strike, but our students, teachers and community deserve a contract that supports and bolsters learning conditions.”

As part of the bargain, teachers at Columbus City Schools are asking for safer working conditions, smaller class sizes and better wages. 

The board said following Wednesday’s meeting that they were ready to consider a “comprehensive counter” to their original offer, which included reducing class sizes, but CEA was unwilling to engage in productive conversation. 

In CEA’s statement, President John Coneglio responded that the board failed to make any counter-proposal and the board made no movement from their initial counter proposal.

After Wednesday’s attempted resolution, Columbus schools expressed their disappointment in the union. Columbus schools are slated to start on Aug. 24.

No additional meetings have been scheduled between the groups. CEA has not filed an official notice of strike yet.

Columbus Board of Education President Jennifer Adair released this statement following the meeting:

“We are extraordinarily disappointed about today’s bargaining session. While we came to the table ready to negotiate and ready to consider a comprehensive counter to the Board’s offer, CEA has not responded in good faith.

It takes two willing parties to successfully negotiate – it is impossible to bargain when the other side is not contributing to the conversation. These are the same behaviors outlined in the Unfair Labor Practice charge we filed; unfortunately, CEA remains unwilling to engage.

Today was our 20th negotiating session since March. We are ready and willing to meet as many times as it takes to reach an agreement, provided that CEA is ready to have productive conversations. 

The Board is determined to reach an agreement and open the school year with our teachers and students in their classrooms. It would be a disservice to our school community if CEA were to file a strike notice when they have not even provided a comprehensive response to our offer.

We know our students, families, teachers, staff, and community have many questions about what the start of the school year may look like. We will address those questions soon, but today we are committed to finding a resolution and moving forward in the best interest of our students.”

CEO President John Coneglio released a video statement following the meeting:

"CEA Family:

We are disappointed to share that negotiations have come to an end for the day by the decision of the federal mediator. We are even more disappointed to share that despite your core bargaining team offering the board a comprehensive counter-proposal on all remaining non-economic issues, the board provided CEA with no counter-proposals at all, either verbally or in writing. The board offered absolutely no movement of any kind from its so-called final offer.

Meanwhile, the media has reported that students and teachers at nine of our buildings will begin another school year without air conditioning despite $54 million going out the door to wealthy corporations and developers in the form of tax abatements. Enough. Our students deserve better. CEA has once again informed the mediator that we are available to meet at any time. Solidarity.”

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