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Columbus City Schools, Columbus Education Association file to add substitutes to teachers' union

Columbus City Schools District Office.
Nick Evans

The Columbus City Schools Board of Education and the Columbus Education Association announced the two entities filed petition to add almost 300 building substitutes to the district's teachers' union.

The petition goes to the State Employment Relations Board, or SERB, less than a month after substitutes announced their effort to unionize. The substitutes got a supermajority of the district’s substitutes to file authorization cards with the State Employment Relations Board and showed up to request formal recognition at a school board meeting earlier this month.

“We believe in meaningful labor relationships with our union leadership and their represented members. We are excited to provide our vital building substitutes with a collective voice and to work toward a fair agreement to ensure the best outcomes for our students," Columbus Board of Education President Jennifer Adair said in a statement Monday.

Now the district, union and substitutes await action and negotiation on the petition anticipated for this summer. The statement from Adair and CEA President John Coneglio said the goal is to have a labor agreement in place before the 2023 to 2024 school year.

“We are thrilled to officially welcome nearly 300 building substitutes to our union family,” Coneglio said in the statement.

Coneglio said he hopes the cooperative process between the school board, union and organizers serves as a model for all employers in the city whose employees seek union representation.

The substitutes are each assigned to one of CCS' roughly 110 schools, working five days a week and filling in during short- and long-term teacher absences. They don't receive the same benefits as full-time teachers, substitutes have said.

Substitutes would join the 4,500 librarians, nurses, counselors and psychologists already represented by the CEA.

The school board next meets on Monday, May 1 at 4 p.m. in a special session.

George Shillcock is a reporter for 89.7 NPR News. He joined the WOSU newsroom in April 2023 following three years as a reporter in Iowa with the USA Today Network.