Columbus Schools and teachers’ union fail to reach new contractual agreement on Wednesday

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Several hours of negotiations between the Columbus Board of Education and the Columbus Education Association ended Wednesday without resolution of the ongoing dispute and public contract between the two parties.

The union reports that it submitted a full proposal on all open non-economic issues and was disappointed that the board did not adopt a single proposal.

“The board has not provided any counter-proposals to the CEA, either verbally or in writing. The board has offered no movement of any kind to its so-called ‘final offer’. “,” CEA President John Caneglio said in a video on Facebook.

Columbus School Board President Jennifer Adair read a prepared statement to reporters, saying the board is “extraordinarily disappointed” with the lack of progress toward a resolution.

“While we came to the table ready to negotiate and ready to consider a comprehensive counteroffer to the board’s offer, the CEA did not respond in good faith,” Adair said. “It takes two willing parties to negotiate successfully – it’s impossible to negotiate when the other party isn’t contributing to the conversation.”

A federal mediator brought the two sides back to the bargaining table on Wednesday for the first time since the union issued a 10-day strike notice on Aug. 4.

The union criticized the district’s contract offer regarding teacher pay, benefits, time off, and employee recruitment and retention. Several buildings still lack air conditioning, though the district is using federal pandemic relief money to retrofit HVAC systems.

Any union strike could begin as early as August 22, the first day most teachers return to work. The first day of classes is August 24.

The strike vote followed several days of public sparing with the school board, including the union criticizing the board for what the board called its final contract offer, and the board filing an unfair labor complaint with the State Labor Relations Commission.

Board members say the union spread false information about the contract offer regarding class sizes, recruiting and retaining employees, and the status of HVAC systems in some buildings. The union denies ever spreading false information.

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