CLEVELAND HEIGHTS, OH — The Cleveland Heights Teachers Union intends to strike.
The union, which is made up of educators in the Cleveland Heights-University Heights Schools, announced their intention to strike this week. Union leaders said they are striking because the Board of Education is not negotiating in good faith.
"The unions intention to strike is based on bargaining that has stalled because the Board refuses to move from their initial offer. They refuse to negotiate in good faith while the Union has brought forth several proposals that's were fair and the Board could certify," said Karen Rego, the union's president.
The Heights Schools have denied the union's accusations, saying they are negotiating in good faith and have spent 60 hours discussing how to move forward with the union. However, the district said it is trying to create a "fiscally responsible" contract. District officials said budgets have been decimated by EdChoice vouchers and the state's decision to make cuts to public school funding due to COVID-19.
The district's contract proposal would alter the union's health care plan. In the week before the Nov. 3 general election, when voters decided a school levy for the district, critics of the levy said the district's spending on teachers' health care was out of line with other, comparable districts.
"The healthcare plan currently in place is out of line with those of any comparable school district, as is the Board’s pick-up of 1 percent of the teachers’ mandatory retirement contribution. Our offer aligns the union’s healthcare and retirement contributions with other similar-sized school districts," the district said in a statement.
The district said the union's proposals would cost the school system somewhere between $1 million and $1.75 million per year.
"That proposal only exacerbates the District’s grim financial reality and was rejected," the district said.
The union said its offers to the district have been fiscally fair.
"We would never make an offer the board couldn't afford. After many hours of negotiating and the Boards refusal to move we were left with no choice but to strike," Rego told Patch.