Still without a contract, Euclid teachers say they will strike 'if necessary'
Teachers with the Euclid City School District have been working without a contract since the 2021-2022 school year started. Negotiations have been ongoing with the Board of Education since the Spring, but after more than 20 negotiation meetings, the Euclid Teachers Association and the district's Board of Education are at an impasse. The now-public battle has become contentious.
The union sees a strike as an “absolute last resort,” but is willing to take that step if an agreement isn’t reached soon, according to Josh Stephens, ETA spokesman and a Euclid High School teacher.
“It's very frustrating, and it adds a layer of stress and difficulty to a job which is already stressful and difficult. I cannot emphasize enough how hard our teachers work for the betterment of our students and our community. This is the second year working through a pandemic. This is now a year without a contract,” Stephens said.
The district declined Ideastream Public Media’s request for an interview, saying it did not want to negotiate in public "through media interviews."
Board President Donna Sudar said in a statement that the board has worked in good faith to come to an agreement with the ETA, including 22 bargaining sessions with the union.
Any contract changes are “designed to increase student success and encourage collaboration with teachers on districtwide curricular matters and pre-K through 12 instructional practices,” according to the statement.
The primary sticking point, according to Stephens, is the district's desire to change the process for assigning teachers to classrooms. Currently, teacher's bid on the assignment they seek, and the choice is based on seniority. The district says the change will allow it to work collaboratively with teachers to make the best assignments, but Stephens said if the language is changed as the districts wants, administrators could use "arbitrary managerial whims" to make decisions. The proposed new language, he said, is vague.
“We have a continual revolving door of administrators who will come to the district for a short period of time, then move on to find higher-paying or easier jobs elsewhere. And we do not feel that the administration is well-suited to make these decisions as to teacher placement,” Stephens said. "We are the stabilizing force in this district and we demand a contract that shows us the respect we deserve.”
In a FAQ posted on the Euclid City Schools website, the district claims that what it actually seeks to do is modernize contract language to “ensure that teachers are working in classrooms that fit their skill set. This is in the best interest of teachers, students and the district as a whole.”
“As always, the district seeks to collaboratively work with teachers to make sure teachers are assigned to the classrooms where they and their students can excel. The current model of basing such a critical decision on seniority, and without the building leader’s input, is antiquated and has not served the needs of our children,” the FAQ reads.
The next negotiation meeting is scheduled for Jan. 6