EAST LIVERPOOL, Ohio (WKBN) – During an East Liverpool City School District meeting Monday night, board members approved a new contract for teachers, even though the teachers union rejected the offer last week.
It was an unanimous vote by the Board of Education members to implement the contract offered on March 27, which district officials said was their “last, best offer.” After the vote was passed, the spokeswoman for the union representing the teachers, said it was “very very disappointing.”
The Board of Education told the union it had until 8:01 a.m. Monday to accept the contract or it would implement the deal. The union’s previous contract expired in August.
“It is a proposal that has not been voted on by the union. It has not been affirmed by the union and therefore it should not be implemented,” said East Liverpool Education Association spokeswoman Trisha Hutton.
More than 100 union supporters stood outside Westgate Middle School Monday evening, carrying signs seeking fair contract negotiations.
“Urge them to come back to the table to bargain with us, to negotiate like we want to. We want to be able to give our counter proposal that we were unable to do,” Hutton said.
School board vice president Bob Estell said the district followed the advice from its legal team when it voted to implement the contract.
“It is rare that one is implemented, but yes, we have the right to implement a contract if we cannot come to one after bargaining,” Estell said.
Board members said the new contract is the last best offer for the union, in hopes to make East Liverpool City Schools a better district.
With the new contract, the Board will give teachers a $500 cash payment for the 2014-2015 school year. Next school year, teachers will get a 2 percent pay increase and another 2 percent for the 2016-2017 school year.
No changes will be made to their health care plan. The new contract also will give teachers 15 additional paid professional development hours.
“Our number one goal going into this was to improve the educational environment here. We are very low on our test scores. We want to give the children every opportunity we can. We want to give our teachers every opportunity we can to be as good as they can be,” Estell said.
The contract actually went into effect with the start of classes Monday morning even though the board did not vote on it until later in the day.
“There are some items in there that we need to get done by a certain amount of time, to make those savings for the district and the teachers happen,” Estell said.
Even though it appears the contract is set in stone now, union members are still hopeful.
“We want to get back to the bargaining table. We want to work collaboratively with the Board of Education. We want to come up with a fair and equitable contract that serves both of us,” Hutton said.
Hutton said the union is waiting to hear from the State Employee Relations Board because they feel the implementation of the contract is illegal.