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Akron teachers union claims school district is union busting after recent layoffs

Roughly 100 teachers, students and others turned out to a rally outside Akron Public Schools' main administrative offices Monday afternoon to protest proposed cuts of teacher jobs.
Conor Morris
Ideastream Public Media
Roughly 100 teachers, students and others turned out to a rally outside Akron Public Schools' main administrative offices in late May to protest cuts of teacher jobs. The teachers union now claims the district is attempting to rehire some of those it had laid off back into non-union positions.

Akron Public Schools' teachers union on Monday accused the school district of union busting, alleging the district's administration is trying to replace teacher positions that were cut in a recent round of layoffs with nonunion jobs.

The Akron Education Association in a news release said the district is trying to hire some teachers back after a recent round of layoffs, but only into nonunion roles. The union in the release said it issued a cease-and-desist order to the district.

Don Malarcik, the union's attorney, provided two examples of recent job postings, one for a special education services specialist and another for a college and career academics specialist, which note the positions would be nonunion. He said until recently, staff in the teachers union had held those positions.

"It's the same job doing the same exact thing," he said. "The only difference is now it's nonunion. So if you want your old job back, you have to leave the union."

The school district in a statement Monday denied the allegations of union busting and said the district has properly followed state law and its own policies in making staff reductions and reassignments.

The district's board of education in late May approved cutting 285 positions, including laying off more than 50 teachers, in response to a looming budget deficit.

"The allegations of 'union busting' in the recent AEA (Akron Education Association) press release are inaccurate and have no basis in fact," the district said in the statement. "At no point during the (reduction in force) RIF/layoff process did the AEA union leadership raise any concerns or ask any questions. It is disappointing that AEA continues to behave in a combative manner and hurl false accusations and seek public attention rather than working collaboratively with the APS administration. This administration maintains an open-door policy with all APS labor unions to discuss, resolve and clarify any labor concerns.”

Earlier this year, the union accused the school district of union busting, over a now-scrapped plan to hire nonlocal online tutors.

Conor Morris is the education reporter for Ideastream Public Media.