By Victor Skinner
STRONGSVILLE, Ohio – The Strongsville Board of Education didn’t take the bait.
The local teachers union, the Strongsville Education Association, convinced teachers to walk off the job five weeks ago to fight for automatic raises and other goodies that the union wants included in a new collective bargaining agreement.
Tuesday, SEA officials told the school board they would send teachers back to class this week if the board will agree to settle the ongoing dispute through binding arbitration, the Strongsville Patch reports.
But board members today declined the union’s self-serving invitation for obvious reasons, and are opting instead to move forward with the help of a federal mediator assigned to oversee negotiations, the news site reports.
“We believe we have a responsibility to our community and voters to stay the course,” board President David Frazee said in a press release. “In binding arbitration, we would be delegating to an out-of-town third party the authority to spend Strongsville taxpayer dollars and concede management rights, which our board thinks is not appropriate and is not agreeable to us.”
We could say the same thing about the teachers strike as a whole. It’s neither appropriate nor agreeable that the district’s educators chose to punish students and the community over financial disagreements with the school board.
It wasn’t appropriate or agreeable when union agitators heckled replacement teachers who were hired to keep school open.
And it wasn’t appropriate or agreeable for SEA leaders to try to force the school board to relinquish its authority to an outside party who has no vested interest in the district.
According to news reports, the contract dispute boils down to automatic annual “step” raises and insurance contributions from employees, though the SEA contends there are also unresolved non-financial issues, such as disagreements on the use of seniority and planning periods.
In other words, the union is holding out for more money than the school board can afford.
If SEA officials believe employee raises and perks are more important than educating students in the community – which should be the core mission of any school district – then it seems the real problem in Strongsville isn’t the contract dispute, but rather the union’s me-first mentality.