COLUMBUS, Ohio (WCMH) – The Columbus City Schools Board of Education is backing building substitutes in their bid to become part of the district’s teachers union.

The board and the union, the Columbus Education Association (CEA), filed a joint petition Monday with the state Labor Relations Board to add building substitutes to the CEA bargaining unit.

Building substitutes initiated the effort at a board meeting last month, saying that although they are full-time employees, they work without the protections of a union contract.

In a statement, board president Jennifer Adair said board members are excited to work toward a fair agreement with the building substitutes.

“We believe in meaningful labor relationships with our union leadership and their represented members,” she said in the statement. “We are excited to provide our vital building substitutes with a collective voice and to work toward a fair agreement to ensure the best outcomes for our students.”

CEA president John Coneglio applauded the board’s move, saying the cooperative recognition process should serve as a model for all employers whose workers want to join a union.

“We are thrilled to officially welcome nearly 300 Building Substitutes to our Union family,” he said in the statement. “These dedicated educators came to the School Board with supermajority support for joining CEA and the Board has done the right thing by swiftly recognizing their union.”