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Columbus Schools, teachers union fail to reach a new contract agreement on Wednesday

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

Several hours of negotiations between the Columbus Board of Education and the Columbus Education Association ended Wednesday without a resolution to the two parties' ongoing and public contract dispute.

The union reports it presented a comprehensive proposal on all open non-economic issues and was disappointed the board did not pass a single proposal.

"The board provided CEA with no counterproposals at all, either verbally or in writing. The board offered no movement of any kind from its so-called 'final offer,'" said CEA president John Caneglio in a video on Facebook.

Columbus school board president Jennifer Adair read reporters a prepared statement, which said the board is "extraordinarily disappointed" with the lack of progress toward a resolution.

"While we came to the table ready to negotiate and ready to consider a comprehensive counter to the board’s offer, CEA has not responded in good faith," Adair said. "It takes two willing parties to successfully negotiate – it is impossible to bargain when the other side is not contributing to the conversation."

A federal mediator had brought both sides back to the bargaining table on Wednesday for the first time since the union issued a 10-day strike notice on August 4.

The union has criticized the district's contract offer regarding teacher pay, benefits, leave and recruiting and retaining employees. Several buildings still lack air conditioning, although the district is using federal pandemic relief money to renovate HVAC systems.

Any union strike could start as early as August 22, the first day most teachers return to work. The first day of classes is August 24.

The vote for the intent to strike followed several days of public sparing with the school board, including the union criticizing the board for what the board called its final contract offer, and the board filing an unfair labor complaint with the state's Employment Relations Board.

Board members claim the union has spread misinformation about the contract offer as it pertains to class size, recruiting and retaining employees, and the condition of some buildings' HVAC systems. The union denies ever spreading misinformation.

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.