The teachers’ strike in Strongsville is now over after eight weeks. The union and school board met at the bargaining table one last time on Friday. As ideastrem's Nick Castele reports, the two parties reached an agreement over health care and pay increases.
It was the longest teachers’ strike in Ohio since 2003, and the first since 2008.
Strongsville teachers filed into the high school late Saturday afternoon to go over the tentative agreement together.
As they entered, about 60 people outside cheered them on.
VOICES: “Welcome back!”
The teachers voted to approve the contract. But union president Tracy Linscott told reporters they didn’t get everything they wanted.
LINSCOTT: “It was bargaining, and part of bargaining…is you give a little bit, you take a little bit, and that’s the compromise.”
Among the bigger sticking points were teachers’ automatic yearly pay increases.
An earlier contract froze them. But this contract allows pay to rise again the longer teachers work, and as they further their own education.
According to the Ohio Department of Education, the average teacher salary is $64,540 for the 2011-2012 academic year.
In exchange, teachers made concessions on health benefits. They’ll pay more into their premiums now. They’ll also pay for their own vision and their own dental care outside of basic cleanings and exams.
Early Sunday morning, the Strongsville school board ratified the agreement unanimously.
Superintendent John Krupinski said the healthcare concessions, along with some unexpected tax revenue, helped the two sides seal the deal.
KRUPINSKI: “Obviously, from the beginning, we needed to have a sustainable contract. This is a sustainable contract into the future.”
Students are taking a day off class today as substitutes pack up their things and teachers who were on strike move back in. Students head back to school with their usual teachers on Tuesday. The next day, eighth graders have a state science test.