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Strike in Chesapeake district avoided

CHESAPEAKE – Chesapeake teachers voted yesterday to accept the decision of a State Employemet Relations Board fact-finder and remain in the classroom.

Wednesday, December 19, 2001

CHESAPEAKE – Chesapeake teachers voted yesterday to accept the decision of a State Employemet Relations Board fact-finder and remain in the classroom.

An overwhleming majority of the educators – 63 for and 11 against – voted to accept the fact-finders decisions and ratify a contract with the district’s board of education.

Teachers in the district have worked without a contract since August and had begun the process of preparing for a strike. The teachers had already organized a crisis committee to prepare the union’s membership and members of the community for the possibility of a strike and Ohio Educators Association had prepared a strike fund for the teachers.

Now, teachers said they look forward to returing to the classroom.

"It came at a good time," Tommie Johnson, a counselor at the high school said, adding that teachers and students can enjoy the holiday and return fresh and settle in for the remainder of the school year.

Larry Morgan, president of the Chesapeake local union, said the negotiations had been "stressful," especially dealing with a third party. The board had hired Bob Cross of Cross Management Services to negotiate its side instead of face-to-face negotiations with the union. Morgan said it would have been easier to work with superintendant Fred Wood because someone local would have had a better understanding of the needs and resources of the school and community.

"An outside consultant didn’t have a handle on the situation…that’s why it drew out," Morgan said.

By accepting the fact-finder’s decision, the teachers have agreed to take a 3.5-percent increase in pay and to not have a fair-share program in place. Morgan said this once again places the teachers union in the place where it is negotiating for the majority and not all of the teachers in the district.

The school board accepted the fact-finder’s decision at its Monday night meeting. The contract between the board and the union will expire on July 31, 2002, once again placing teachers and the board back at the negotiation table.