GARFIELD HEIGHTS, Ohio (WJW) – The Garfield Heights Teachers’ Association is preparing for a possible strike.
Late Monday night, the teachers’ union issued a 10-day strike notice.
The teachers’ association has been negotiating with the board of education since April.
The group said they thought negotiations were going well until, they say, the board’s team left negotiations on Monday without any explanation.
The teachers’ association called the move “disrespectful.”
“During a break, the board’s team left the building without any notification or rationale. After this display of disrespect towards our members and the collective bargaining process, we moved forward with issuing the strike notice to the district with heavy hearts,” said GHTA spokesperson Susan Hart. “It is our hope that, through continued efforts by both parties, we will be able to reach a tentative agreement and avoid a strike on October 31. If that does not happen, our teachers are ready to head to the picket line.”
The union says the vote to issue the strike notice was approved by an overwhelming majority of the union membership.
The union is asking for better pay and benefits to attract and keep teachers in the district. They say they’ve lost 46 teachers in the past year.
“We must stop the bleed now more than ever. We don’t want to strike, but we can’t stand by while teachers are leaving in droves and the safety of our staff and students continues to be ignored,” said Hart in a statement.
The Garfield Heights City Schools released a statement calling the decision to possibly strike “irresponsible.”
The district said they have demonstrated a “spirit of compromise” on nearly every issue from the union.
The full statement can be read, below:
“The GHCS is disappointed in GHTA’s intention to strike, and after a positive and agreeable tone from last week’s negotiating session, finds the union leadership’s decision to force teachers to strike totally irresponsible of good-faith negotiations. The Board of Education has demonstrated a spirit of compromise on nearly every critical issue from the union, including increases to base pay, increases on severance pay, increases for spot-sub and split rates, increases for pay during professional development outside the workday, increases for tutoring rates during plan time, increases for tutoring rates on home instruction, as well as withdrawing some of our own proposals. GHTA leadership’s intention to strike is detrimental to our students’ education, and neither demonstrates unity among our school family, nor helps the parties reach a wise and fair contract for teachers, families, and taxpayers. Still, the GHCS remains hopeful for collaboratively reconvening in open negotiations to avoid a strike, and to achieve a fair contract.“
If a deal is not reached, the strike is scheduled to start Monday, October 31.