Cleveland Heights-University Heights teachers warn they’ll strike if contract negotiations with district fail

District responds to strike notice from teachers union

Cleveland Heights-University Heights teachers warn they’ll strike

CLEVELAND, Ohio (WOIO) - The Cleveland Heights Teachers Union announced on Friday that teachers, counselors, school nurses and other staffers may strike on December 2, if they can not come to an agreement on a new contract with the Cleveland Heights-University Heights City School District.

The union, which represents 500 staffers in the district, said that it filed a 10-day strike notice starting December 2, following months of bargaining sessions with the school district.

Friday evening, CH-UH Board President, Jodi Sourini responded to the strike notice from the teachers union saying, “The threat of a strike given these extraordinary circumstances is disappointing. It remains our goal to resolve this contract swiftly and amicably.”

The board of education presented contract terms that would result in some members losing up to 8 percent of their take home pay because of increases in healthcare costs and the elimination of a 1% retirement contribution, according to the union.

The average member will lose close to $4,000 on the healthcare changes alone, according to the union.

In a statement the school district said that the contract terms they proposed were reasonable.

“The healthcare plan currently in place is out of line with those of any comparable school district, as is the Board’s pick-up of 1 percent of the teachers’ mandatory retirement contribution,” the district wrote. “Our offer aligns the union’s healthcare and retirement contributions with other similar-sized school districts.”

The package that the union proposed would cost the district $1 million a year, according to the district. Rego told 19 News about their proposal, “We would never, ever give an offer to the board, that they could not afford. Every offer that we’ve had from the beginning, is something that our board can certify and is fair.”

Cleveland Heights and University Heights voters narrowly passed a 4.8 mill operating levy in November.

The district said in its release that that levy keeps the district afloat financially only in combination with $2 million in cuts in fiscal year 2022.

“Our financial situation remains dire,” the release said.

Membership voted in October to authorize the strike, the union said.

The union said it is willing to make concessions and recognized the financial difficulties facing the district, but Rego says about the strike, “We are going to be on strike until we have a fair contract. We cannot recommend to our membership a contract that is not fair.”

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