Ohio Town’s Lengthy Teacher Strike Splits Community

Strongsville, Ohio teachers are continuing their strike even as the two sides are attempting to find a way towards a compromise with the federally appointed mediator, North Ohio’s Sun News reports. Teachers have now been striking for two weeks, while those hoping for a speedy resolution are losing hope after another 5 and a half hour negotiation session failed last night.

Tracy Linscott, the president of the Strongsville Education Association, and School Board President David Frazee have both expressed frustration with lack of progress in the talks. Both said that they had high hopes that the federal mediator would bring the two sides closer, and both feel that a compromise remains out of reach at the moment.

The meeting, held at the Federal Mediation and Conciliation Services office in Independence, was called March 15 by the federal mediator whose been working on the negotiations since Jan. 30 and has worked with the Strongsville City Schools for a number of years.

But after the Board of Education and its bargaining team emerged, Superintendent John Krupinski said the parties remain “substantially apart” on many key issues, and no further negotiating sessions are scheduled.

The last proposal submitted by the union calls for reinstatement of step and column teacher raises as well as changing the way the work day for teachers is defined.

The raises have been frozen since the last time the union and the district butted heads in 2011. The teachers’ proposal was in response to the “best” offer submitted by the district which called for the raises to remain frozen but offered a to reinstitute Voluntary Personal Growth raises and more flexibility on how pensions are computed.

Meanwhile, parents of Strongsville seem to be split in their reactions to the strike. Many express frustration at the situation, but while some are calling on the teachers to get back to the classrooms, others are standing with the union against the district.

About 100 parents showed up at a rally the purpose of which was to show support for teachers who are willing to cross the picket lines and enter the classrooms again.

Komarek and other parents said behavior by the Strongsville Education Association’s protesting teachers – which has included two teachers getting arrested and video of teachers yelling and screaming at substituteswhile they were being escorted by police to apply the day before the strike – is setting a bad example for students, and the community.
“This strike is embarrassing the community and it’s been going on too long,” Komarek said.

Meanwhile at 7pm every night about 150 teachers, students and parents get together for a candle-light vigil which in theory was supposed to be about the students, but turned into an impromptu rally in support of the union.

Organizers of both events vowed to continue holding them daily while the strike goes on.