COLUMBUS, Ohio (WCMH) — The Columbus teachers’ strike left a mark on union members and their families — benefits and pay were put on pause during the picketing.
NBC4’s Karina Cheung spoke to a teacher’s spouse about the impact, but also learned more about when those benefits are back on.
Nicole Kraft says that the past several days have weighed heavily on her mind. The idea of her husband going without some of those benefits, specifically health insurance, was something she didn’t expect. She’s eager to see that come back now soon especially with the conceptual agreement on the table.
“It’s one of those things that you don’t really realize how stressful it’s going to be until it unfolds,” she said.
Kraft said her husband is a teacher at Colerain Elementary and has been there for seven years. She added he was out on the picket lines for hours Monday through Wednesday. Some of that time without health benefits. He’s a cancer survivor.
“It’s not something that ever leaves you, so you know he fortunately has been in remission for quite a long time, but it’s not something we ever thought we’d have to worry about,” she said talking about his health insurance. “It’s something we’ve been able to count on and we’re really lucky that way.”
Columbus City Schools previously shared on its alternative opening page for CEA members that health insurance for those who chose to strike would be terminated on Aug. 22. NBC4 reached out to the district Thursday about when that would be reinstated and was told “CEA members have to move forward with a vote.”
CEA spokesperson Regina Fuentes says they are back at work and back on the payroll.
“I’m assuming that because we’re back in that will also kick back in, I just don’t know as far as the timeline or when the button is pushed for everything to go but hopefully it’s retroactive back to today when we are back on the clock,” she said.
Kraft says there were some scary moments for her this week, especially when her husband was out at Indian Springs Elementary School Tuesday.
“That was a surprise when he called he said, ‘I’m ok but there was someone that came by and shot at us with a BB gun’ — and realizing that people can come by and do all sorts of things,” she said.
A local state senator shared intent this week to introduce legislation to protect striking workers from losing their healthcare benefits.
The union will have a mass meeting at some point this weekend to vote on the agreement, but no word on when that will happen at this time.