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12-02-04 Celina teachers reject latest contract offer

By Janie Southard

  No deal say Celina teachers to the board's latest contract offer.

  At the general membership meeting Wednesday night following negotiations on Tuesday, the Celina Education Association (CEA) voted in secret ballot 184-4 to reject the latest offer by the board of education.
  "Yes, stumbling blocks are money, benefits and length of contract, that whole package, but there was a lot of discussion and concern at our meeting about the (board's) lack of respect for the bargaining process itself," CEA President Phil Long told The Daily Standard following the union meeting Wednesday night.
  Board of Education Vice President Matt Gilmore this morning said he has had no official word on the teachers' vote.
  "If it's true, we're all obviously disappointed. But it's a sad statement when the teachers' association feels it has to elevate itself above the needs of the district and, more importantly, above the needs of the kids," Gilmore said.  Long cited some examples of what causes the membership to take offense to the board's attitude toward the bargaining process.
  Tuesday's negotiations, the first since October 12, began at 1 p.m. and concluded at 6 p.m.
  "We were prepared to stay and talk, and wanted to stay, but they broke up a little before six," Long said via telephone. "We want to get back to the table the sooner the better, but nothing is scheduled."
  Gilmore said, "We (the board) will meet very shortly to determine our next step. But, I just don't know where we can go from here."
  The board's previous offer, which was discussed publicly at November's board meeting, rested with a 2 percent raise this year and a 2.25 percent increase next year. Neither Gilmore or Long would release the details of the latest offer that rejected.
  The board of education has said its offer is in line with what the district can afford, according to the five-year financial forecast.
  The 223 members of the Celina teachers' union have been working without a contract for more than three months. Following the October failed negotiation session, the union voted overwhelmingly to authorize the filing of a 10-day strike notice with the State Employment Relations Board, which allows them to strike if necessary.
  In 2003 both the teachers and their classified counterparts, Local 457 of the Ohio Association of Public School Employees, opted to forego a salary increase for one year in an effort to help bail the district out of financial jeopardy.
  Local 457 also voted to authorize a strike following their only bargaining session in early September.
  Long has said previously that the union does not want to file a strike notice, "but we're running out of options."


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