Cleveland Heights Teachers Union Files Strike Notice 11.20.2020

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November 20, 2020
Contact: Karen Rego, CHTU President
Cleveland Heights Teachers Union Files Strike Notice
CLEVELAND HEIGHTS, OH — Cleveland Heights Teachers Union (CHTU), which represents 500 teachers, counselors, nurses, and other school support professionals, filed a ten day notice to strike, beginning on December 2, 2020. The strike notice follows months of bargaining sessions with the Cleveland Heights-University Heights City School District and a membership vote in October, with an overwhelming majority in favor of striking if a fair contract was not reached. 
“We’re fighting for a fair contract because we know that the alternative -- lowering standards for teachers and staff -- will increase turnover and drive experienced, skilled educators out of our school district,” said CHTU President Karen Rego.
The school district’s Board of Education has imposed contract terms that slash compensation by dramatically increasing costs on healthcare (raising the employee share of the premium to 250% of its current share) and eliminating a 1% retirement contribution which was negotiated in a previous contract in lieu of a raise. On average, members will lose close to $4,000 on the healthcare changes alone. When the retirement concession is added in, some members may lose up to 8% or more of their take home pay. 
“Our schools are facing unprecedented challenges due to COVID-19 and remote learning,” said CHTU 2nd Vice-President Tamar Gray. “Teachers and staff have been working harder than ever and rising to meet these challenges. But at the same time, our district’s Board has been fighting to push us backward on wages and benefits. We can’t continue to do more with less.”
Over the past 10 years CHTU members have received raises totalling only 8.5%; far below cost of living increases, and far less than raises in neighboring districts.
“We understand the financial state of our school district, especially the impact of voucher deductions in our district,” said 1st Vice-President Ari Klein. “We’re committed to working together with our Board to change state policy and end the harmful EdChoice voucher deductions. We’re disappointed that instead, our Board has chosen to attack the teachers and staff who keep this school district running.”
The school district is projected to lose $9 million this year alone to private school voucher deductions, though the Fair School Funding Plan (HB 305 and SB 376) which is advancing in the lame duck legislative session would end those deductions. Additionally, a 4.8 mil levy was just approved by the community. 
“The Union has come forward with several proposals that offer concessions  to our insurance benefits,” said Rego. “We know the district has the resources to settle a fair contract and we’re ready to work with our Board to find a resolution, because our students deserve a school district that can recruit and retain the best educators.”   
The Cleveland Heights Teachers Union (CHTU) represents 500 teachers, counselors, school nurses, and other school support professionals, united to support quality education in our community. CHTU is affiliated with the Ohio Federation of Teachers and the American Federation of Teachers.