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Columbus teachers' union votes to authorize strike notice

Columbus Education Association rally.JPG
Matthew Rand
Columbus Education Association members rally outside of school board headquarters July 27, 2022.

The Columbus Education Association has notified Columbus City School leaders of their intent to issue a strike notice following a unanimous vote to do so by union leaders Thursday.

Union members chanted “CEA” and “Whose schools? Our schools” immediately after the vote inside the Greater Columbus Convention Center.

“We love what we do,” said CEA spokeswoman Regina Fuentes after the leadership vote. “We want to be spending our time right now planning our classes and preparing our kids. But we can’t do that right now because the district has decided to abandon us."

The vote follows weeks of negotiations over a new contract and a day after the school board filed an unfair labor practices complaint against the union with the Employment Relations Board. The school board claims the union spread misinformation about the latest contract offer as it pertains to class sizes, recruitment and retention efforts, and the condition of some buildings’ HVAC systems.

Union leaders deny they ever spread misinformation.

“After 19 days of contract negotiations that began in March, the Board is disappointed that CEA did not vote on the Board’s contract offer,” read a statement released by Board of Education President Jennifer Adair Thursday evening.

Fuentes says the union has until August 11 to make a final decision on whether to strike. Any strike could begin as soon as August 22, the day most teachers are supposed to report to classrooms for the new school year.

Steve Brown grew up in nearby Richwood, Ohio and now lives there with his wife and sons. He started his journalism career as a weekend board operator at WOSU while majoring in journalism at Ohio State, where he also wrote for the student newspaper The Lantern and co-founded the organization Students for Public Broadcasting.