COLUMBUS, Ohio (WCMH) — The Columbus Board of Education is set to meet two more times with the teachers’ union before a strike could start the week after.
The Columbus Board of Education asked a federal mediator to schedule additional bargaining sessions in the ongoing contract dispute with the district’s teachers’ union, according to board President Jennifer Adair.
“It is our sincere hope that CEA will meet with us and bargain in good faith. It is time to set aside the rhetoric so that together we can create opportunities for unity and resolution,” Adair said in a statement.
In a tweet from the Columbus Education Association, the union said its mediator scheduled meetings for Tuesday and Thursday of this week. The CEA union represents 4,500 educators in the Columbus City Schools district.
Adair said the board is committed to the bargaining process and will “swiftly and thoroughly” review contract proposals submitted by the CEA. The board’s request for more negotiation sessions comes days after the teachers’ union filed its intent to strike and picket with the State Employment Relations Board, continuing months of contentious contract negotiations with the district.
The filing opens the door for the union to strike on Monday, Aug. 22 — two days before the first day of school — if a contract agreement with the district is not reached. The current contract expires on Sunday, Aug. 21.
According to the union, some of the sticking points in the contract include HVAC issues in district schools, recruiting and retaining teachers, and smaller class sizes. Sufficient planning time for teachers, a cap on the number of class periods during the day, and outsourcing positions to private, for-profit corporations are also a point of contention, CEA said.
The 10-day strike notice came after the board delivered its final contract offer to the teachers’ union on Thursday, July 28 — a “fair, comprehensive, and respectful” agreement in the eyes of the board but a “take it or leave it” deal that CEA President John Coneglio said the union will not accept, demanding continued negotiations.
A few days later, the board said it was preparing “alternative outcomes” — including remote learning — should a strike happen.