COLUMBUS, Ohio (WCMH) – The Columbus Education Association (CEA), the union representing Columbus City Schools teachers and other personnel, is poised to vote on a potential strike Sunday evening.
The vote will come during a membership meeting after another marathon negotiation session between the union and the district Thursday that ended without a contract agreement.
Union members will see the district’s full offer on a contract at the meeting and are set to hold a vote on whether or not to go out on strike.
Sunday also marks the day the current teachers’ agreement expires and comes three days before students are set to start the 2022-23 school year. The union meeting is scheduled to begin at 6:30 p.m.
Saturday afternoon, CEA president John Coneglio issued a video statement via Facebook ahead of Sunday’s vote, saying negotiations should have continued.
“I should have been inside bargaining yesterday,” Coneglio said from outside the district building. “And I should be inside bargaining tomorrow. I’m out here instead because, for the second time, the school board has decided to walk away from our students.”
He added the union is available to bargain with the district at any time.
CEA represents approximately 4,500 teachers, nurses, librarians, and other school staff.
Union spokesperson Regina Fuentes said the school board hasn’t moved on smaller class sizes, full-time art and physical education teachers at elementary schools, guarantees for working on HVAC systems in all schools, and other items the union has been pushing for.
“It’s kind of a tense feeling right now, of course people are nervous,” Fuentes said Sunday. “People are disappointed in the district’s stance of not wanting to negotiate anymore, but we are standing firm with not wanting to take the status quo and not take-it-or-leave-it kind of offer.”
CCS’ last statement on negotiations came Friday, when it posted its “last, best and final offer” online.
“It is a strong offer,” the district posted. “It’s responsive to the concerns that have been raised. The offer is respectful and reflects how important our teachers are to our district.”
Columbus City School Board President Jennifer Adair said Saturday they are confident an agreement can be reached.
“They want to be back in school with their teachers and we’re confident that can happen,” she said. “That is our goal. It’s been our goal from the beginning. We greatly respect our staff. They’re who make this happen and we’re – the board is listening and we are committed to making sure there’s a resolution.”
The latest offer from the district is below.