Columbus Teachers Prepare For Strike At Start Of School Year

By Erika Hanson | Published

Columbus teachers

Union strikes are not uncommon, but in the world of education, they seem to be happening more and more, even as more Americans lose confidence in some of the largest teachers’ unions, and their ability to serve the students they teach. But still, a major reason for recent strikes across the nation has been for what unions have deemed unfair benefits and lack of pay, all concurrent with the growing teacher shortage as fewer newcomers enter the field, and more tenured ones leave. Now, Columbus teachers are set to strike just weeks before the 2022-2023 school year begins.

Earlier this week on both Monday and Wednesday, members of the Columbus teachers union picketed on the steps of the school board office, demanding that the board hold more bargaining meetings with union members. They were demanding a variety of issues to be addressed by the board. However, most of these issues still remain undiscussed, and it appears that Columbus teachers are close to striking.

With signs in hands, members chanted things like “One, two, three four, we won’t take it anymore. Five, six, seven, eight, c’mon Board negotiate,” according to reports from The Columbus Dispatch. Overall, Columbus teachers were outraged with what they said was the board’s failure to meet and negotiate further with them. There were two bargaining sessions scheduled throughout July, and the board refused to go further.

On the table for these bargaining sessions included a plethora of demands, but seemingly but salary increases were not a top concern. Columbus teachers were asking for better HVAC systems, more nurses and counselors, and smaller class sizes. Last year, schools were continuously closed because of extreme heat and a lack of air conditioning in many school buildings. With few school nurses, these employees have been pleading with the district for aid for quite some time as they feel overwhelmed and overworked.

According to a report from ABC, the school board extended what they called their final offer to the Columbus teachers union yesterday, July 28th. Board members have not made public exactly what the offer included but detailed that it offered teacher salary increases, more benefits, and extra career development opportunities. Additionally, board members noted that they would address the heating and cooling situation inside 16 schools by using COVID relief funds to update HVAC systems.

Given the fact that the offer was handed over to union officials in what news reports claim lasted less than a minute, it appears that Columbus teachers will remain upset with the school board for their lack of negotiation tactics. Union spokespeople insisted that this meeting was supposed to be a joint negotiation session, but asserted that the board was unwavering in their offers. If the union chooses not to sign the new contract and its offerings by August 21st, teachers will go on strike starting the next day.

Columbus teachers

Schools are scheduled to welcome back children on August 24th – just two days after the strike may begin. Columbus teachers ready to strike say that they are willing to lose out on pay and even be forced to teach longer into the year if it means fighting for what they say are services that students deserve. Unless more negotiations are held, it is likely the large district will start off the new school year with a strike.