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Strongsville Teachers Strike

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Monday, March 4, 2013 at 2:35 PM

Strongsville teachers picket while mostly empty buses drop students off at school. The strike officially started at midnight on March 4, 2013.

After union contract negotiations came to a standstill last week, Strongsville's 385 teachers, guidance counselors and other members of the Strongsville Education Association have opted to strike.

The teachers union and the school board have been in negotiations since June, but talks broke down early this year. Teachers say they made concessions in their last contract, including wage freezes, and are unwilling to forego their step-increases again. Instead, they want to see a one percent pay increase on top of restored step-increases.

How much teachers should pay for health care and dental insurance is also in dispute.

School administrators say they're facing a $6 million budget hole, and cannot do better than the "last-best" offer proposed last week. (Here's the unions last-best offer.)

WKSU's M.L. Schultze reports the teachers say they want to resume negotiations, but Strongsville Superintendent John Krupinski says he hasn't heard that.

In any case, he says, the administration doesn’t have anything else to bring to the table other than its last offer.

“We’ve had unfunded mandates. Our revenues are decreasing. We must remain in the black, and therefore we have a very fair proposal on the table that has some concessions, especially in health care because health-care costs are staggering.”

And Kabir Bhatia of WKSU reports that many parents have opted to keep their children home while substitute and temporary teachers fill the classrooms during the strike.

Parents like April Boros still aren’t sending their kids to school today.

“I have an 11-year-old that has an IEP (individual education plan), and he has a medical condition. These people coming in here are not going to know how to deal with this medical condition. Or his IEP. So he will be staying home.”

This strike has been a long time coming.

The Sun News has a timeline of negotiations. Over the past seven months, teachers have silently protested at school board meetings, and loudly protested against substitute teachers at the local police stations.

Some teachers have said the board's refusal to give in to pay increases is reminiscent of SB 5, or Senate Bill 5. That was the measure passed by the Ohio legislature, and later repealed by voters, that aimed to curb public employee unions' collective bargaining rights. Other community members say SB 5 would have prevented this strike.

This is the first time in five years that an Ohio teachers union went on strike. The last time was in 2008 in Newton Falls, when teachers went on strike for four days, largely because of disagreements over pay.

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