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10-18-04 Celina school teachers union authorizes strike if necessary

By Janie Southard

  Celina teachers' union is now in position to strike if current contract negotiations break down.

  Following an informal meeting of the Celina Education Association (CEA) last week, the membership "voted overwhelmingly by secret ballot to approve filing of the 10-day notice of intent to strike," according to a press release from teacher Phil Long, CEA president. The vote is not to strike, but instead a vote to allow the CEA negotiating committee to announce a strike if deemed necessary.
  The informal meeting, where the teachers' vote is reputed to have been 150-2, came last Tuesday following failed negotiations with the board and a federal mediator.
  The teachers have been working without a contract since their one-year contract expired in early September. The old contract provided zero wage increase and double insurance payments.
  The Daily Standard has learned some of the details of the CEA's proposal for a new three-year contract. The teachers reportedly are asking for salary increases of: 2.75 percent this year, 3 percent in year two, and 3.5 percent in year three. Additionally, the first year increase would be retroactive to the end of the 2003-2004 school year.  But the board of education wants to offer a two-year contract with a 2 percent salary increase the first year and a 2.25 percent increase the second year, the newspaper learned.
  In a telephone conversation this morning, teacher Tim O'Donnell, who heads up the CEA negotiation team, declined to comment on any negotiation details including the above salary increase numbers.
  The CEA's approval of an intent to strike comes just six weeks after the classified staff union also authorized an intent to strike.
  The Ohio Association of Public School Employees Local 457 (OAPSE), which represents the bus drivers, custodians, secretary, etc., also has been working without a contract and currently has stopped negotiations.
  Celina board of education member Matt Gilmore, who is head of the board negotiation team, told The Daily Standard this morning, "this (intent to strike vote) is no different than what OAPSE did a month ago. I don't see it necessarily as a negative, although it's certainly not a positive."
  The board of education will hold its regular monthly meeting at 6 p.m. tonight in the high school lecture hall.


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