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Columbus City Schools: No-Go on Negotiations

Miriam Bowers Abbott Miriam Bowers Abbott Columbus City Schools: No-Go on NegotiationsPhoto by Walker Evans.
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The contract between Columbus City Schools and its teachers will expire in August, 2017. As the teachers’ union attempts to launch the negotiation process for the next contract with the district, members say things have not started well.

The Columbus Education Association (CEA) called all its members to a meeting in late May to keep them apprised of the process. According to teaching members in attendance, who asked not to be identified, the CEA leadership announced that the district would not entertain its requests, citing “budget ambiguity” and the financial cost of negotiation.

Those in attendance said that the CEA leadership did not describe the details of its contract requests to the membership.

According to the teachers, the passage of Issue 57 in the fall should have financed the contract requests, generally speaking. The levy issue increased taxpayer obligations to the district by 17 percent. In its campaign for Issue 57, the district promised “290 new teachers and staff” to taxpayers. District staffing data records show the combined total of teaching staff in the district at 3,991 in May. There were more teachers, 4,000, in November 2016 before the levy passed.

The refusal to negotiate may have come as a shock to the Columbus Education Association. While it has redacted most of its pre and post election positions in its online newsletters, its campaign efforts on behalf of Issue 57 remain in view, including requests for each member to donate $20 to the campaign. That would be in addition to at least $20,000 donated to the campaign by the organization itself.

Members have been urged to attend the Board of Education meeting on Tuesday, and an email was sent from the CEA asking them to go and “stand in solidarity.” Meanwhile, the CEA has also turned its social media avatar to a solidarity sign.

The superintendent and the Columbus Education Association were both contacted regarding this story. Neither party responded.

To view the present contract, visit ceaohio.org.

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