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Columbus City Schools Approves Agreement With Non-Teacher Employee Union

Columbus City Schools District Office.
Nick Evans
Columbus City Schools District Office.

Updated: October 20, 2021, 7:56 a.m. EST

The Columbus Board of Education unanimously approved a new two-year contract on Tuesday for thousands of custodians, bus drivers and other non-teaching employees.

The deal gives with the Columbus School Employees Association (CSEA) union members a 3% raise this year and a 2.5% raise next year.

It also uses federal COVID relief money to give employees $2,000 retention and recruitment bonuses. The bonuses would be funded through federal ESSER (Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief Fund) grant dollars.

CSEA president Lois Carson said the union had sought a larger amount during what she said were "at times heated" negotiations.

The deal is a step in the right direction, but doesn't go far enough to address the district's workforce woes, she said.

"When you look at an instructional aide coming in at $15 bucks an hour, and you look at some of the fast-food restaurants, the Amazons of the world. They're bringing their folks in at more than that," Carson said.

Columbus Schools Superintendent Dr. Talisa Dixson said the contract shows the district’s respect and appreciation for the 3,000 non-teaching employees.

“We are fortunate to have federal grant dollars that allow us to address recruitment and retention challenges that have been brought on by the pandemic,” Dixon said in a statement. “These bonuses are another way of showing our appreciation for our CSEA employees who have continued to help support our students and our community during the pandemic.”

Bonus recipients will receive the first payment within 60 days of the board of education’s approval of the contract. Future payments will be in May 2022, October 2022 and May 2023 for eligible bargaining unit employees.

The agreement also includes:

  • The creation of a joint professional development committee that includes members of CCS administration and CSEA members.
  • Juneteenth added as a paid holiday for year-round employees or those who typically work on that date.
  • Streamlined and electronic posting process for vacancies but with no changes to seniority.
  • Food service workers will receive $200 over the life of the contract for uniforms.
  • Increased flexibility for custodians to take vacation days during the school year.
  • Moving some positions from seven-hour to eight-hour workdays. This includes more than 1,000 CSEA members in the following roles:
    • Supporting student needs
    • Instructional assistants (not including latchkey)
    • Non-transportation child care attendants
    • Non-transportation intervention aides
    • Sign language interpreters
    • Transportation call center representatives
Matthew Rand is the Morning Edition host for 89.7 NPR News. Rand served as an interim producer during the pandemic for WOSU’s All Sides daily talk show.