By Victor Skinner
STRONGSVILLE, Ohio – Strongsville residents are urging the local teachers union to hold a secret ballot vote on the school board’s last, best offer, in hopes of ending a six-week teachers strike.
“SEA President Tracy Linscott, responding to a request from the school board to put the (district’s last, best) offer to a vote among the union’s 383 members, said there is no need,” the Strongsville Patch reports.
“We did vote on it on March 3, and 94 percent of our members said no,” Linscott said, referencing the membership vote to authorize a strike.
But it’s been six weeks since then, and teachers are clearly growing restless. Perhaps they feel a bit differently now and will accept the school board’s offer. Why won’t the union let them vote?
As of Monday, six teachers have crossed the picket lines to return to work and Strongsville Superintendent Dave Frazee believes there will soon be more, the Patch reports.
“I’m sure more will follow!!” Frazee wrote in an email, according to the news site. “It will be difficult getting those soon-to-be-majority of teachers who crossed the picket line to accept those who did not.”
The Strongsville Community Action Committee is urging the SEA to have a secret ballot vote of its members on the district’s last, best offer for a new teachers contract.
The SCAC, comprised of 4,000 community members led by four residents, has also organized weekly rallies at the Strongsville Clock Tower to support the school board, and has launched a website – www.StrikeFacts.com.
But the teachers union obviously doesn’t care about the will of the community. Union leaders have continued to call on the school board to enter into binding arbitration, a red herring meant to sway the situation to their advantage. Linscott has repeatedly stated that if the district agrees to binding arbitration teachers will return to work immediately, according to media reports.
District leaders have declined the invitation because they said the current last, best offer represents what the community can afford.
Strongsville teachers walked out on students in early March and school officials replaced striking teachers with substitutes. School employees on the picket lines have harassed their replacements, blocked school driveways and protested at the homes of school board members.
The situation has gotten so bad some school officials have called for police to escort children to school buses out of fear that protesting teachers will take things too far.
The two sides have met for a total of 44 hours of negotiations over the last week with no progress, the Patch reports.