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Classes start in three weeks for students in the Youngstown City School District, but the district’s teachers are still without a new contract after their deal expired June 30.
Approximately 40 members of the Youngstown Education Association showed up at Tuesday’s Board of Education meeting, but they showed up for a 6 p.m. board meeting and the board adjourned at 5:18 p.m.
There was a caucus meeting scheduled at 4:30 p.m. The board went into executive session to discuss negotiations, and then rolled right into its regular meeting. However, teachers said it’s always been that the caucus was held at 4:30 p.m. and the regular meeting starts at 6 p.m. no matter what time the caucus ends.
“The members who wanted to show a presence, we all decided to meet at 6 p.m .Well, what I was told when I showed up, was that they had a caucus at 4:30, meeting at 5 and out the door,” said YEA executive board member Jan Pentz.
Teachers hoped to show a sign of solidarity in front of the board and administration as both sides continue to negotiate a new contract for YEA’s 525 members. Since they couldn’t get inside the building, union members stood outside wearing “YEA United” t-shirts, carrying signs and shouting “no contract, no work.”
“I’m optimistic we’re going to get this worked out. I’ll be able to get it worked out. There’s no need to be here,” said Youngstown Schools Superintendent Dr. Connie Hathorn.
Both sides appear to be far apart on sticking points such as compensation and health care.
“We have no problem contributing, none. We do contribute. When I first started in this district we didn’t contribute. Okay, we have no problem, but we do not want to be taken advantage of, and we feel that we are going backwards,” Pentz said.
YEA last week authorized its bargaining team to issue a 10-day strike notice, but no notice has been given. However, Pentz said teachers will not be in the classrooms when school starts Sept. 3 without a new deal in place.
Another bargaining session is set for 9 a.m. Thursday morning at the Irene Ward Building. The meeting was already scheduled before the YEA authorized its team to issue the 10-day strike notice.