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Strike fund set up for Chesy teachers

CHESAPEAKE - Teachers in the Chesapeake school district have received a financial boost from the Ohio Educators Association.

Monday, December 03, 2001

CHESAPEAKE - Teachers in the Chesapeake school district have received a financial boost from the Ohio Educators Association.

A strike fund has been established at City National Bank – the same bank used by the school board – for the the local teachers’ union.

This move comes just days before a fact-finding hearing is scheduled for the school district. A fact-finder from the State Employees Relation Board will meet with the school district representatives, led by the board’s negotiator, Bob Cross from Cross Management Consultants of Portsmouth, and teachers’ union representatives, Don Dalton from the OEA labor relation consultants, and Chesapeake teachers Larry Morgan, the local union’s president, and Steve Sheets, a member of the negotiations team.

The fact-finding meeting is scheduled for 10 a.m. Wednesday at the Grandview Inn in South Point.

A source, under the condition of confidentiality, has stated the board will not offer a better contract proposal. The source said the board will probably cut the pay-option for medical insurance, decrease the amount of sick days and only offer a three-percent increase.

Currently, the board pays 80 percent of the medical insurance, leaving the teachers with a 20-percent co-pay. The board is rumored to want to reduce its pay out to 75 percent, leaving the teachers with an additional 5-percent out-of-pocket expense for medical insurance.

Chesapeake teachers have been working without a contract since the first of August. Originally, the board’s negotiator told the educators the board lacked the funding needed to increase the teachers’ salaries.

The board then opened negotiations with a flat zero-percent increase in pay.

In a previous interview, Morgan said teachers first asked for a 6-percent raise in their salaries, in addition to an increase in sick days and a change in the teachers’ working hours. The work day at Chesapeake is 7.5 hours long – compared to 6:50 hours in most other school districts. The additional time adds up to about 18 additional work days above other school systems.

As far as a pay increase is concerned, Morgan said the board offered a 3 – percent counteroffer. Teachers’ in other districts, Morgan said, received a raise equaling at least 4-percent.

And the issue goes further than pay, Morgan said. He said teachers worked, at the school board’s request, on the two bond issues that passed, enabling the construction of a new high school about 12 years ago and the recent bond issue that paid for renovations to the high school and elementary school and a new junior high school. "The board has short memories," Morgan said, adding that he believes, "they have lost touch with what teachers have to deal with."

Board members were contacted but were unable to be reached on Sunday evening. In a previous interview, board president Tom Curry said pay increases at other schools shouldn’t be a factor in bargaining for a pay raise. He said other districts are in different financial shapes and in the past, the Chesapeake school board has made increases in teachers’ salaries that were beyond what other area teachers received.

After Wednesday’s hearing, the fact-finder has seven days to file a report then the fact-finders decision goes to a vote from both the teachers’ union and the school board. Either side can decide whether or not it will adhere to the fact-finders decision.

If teachers’ decide to strike, classrooms may lack educators after the Christmas break.