Was East Liverpool teacher contract decision legal?

East Liverpool contract legality questioned

EAST LIVERPOOL, Ohio (WKBN) – The East Liverpool Education Association is discussing plans to seek legal action after the East Liverpool Board of Education voted Monday to implement a contract that the union had rejected.

The Board of Education vice president and the union spokesperson gave opposing views on the legality of the move.

“It is not really fair labor practice. It is really not going the union process,” East Liverpool Education Association spokeswoman Trisha Hutton said.

But Board of Education vice president Bob Estell said the board’s attorney told them it was legal.

Local attorney David Engler said the issue is not black and white.

“I can tell you there is a lot of gray when it comes to negotiations. So this is far from over,” Engler said.

He was a Mahoning County commissioner for 15 years. And he said the Board of Education’s decision to implement the district’s “last best offer” can be seen as legal.

“They would have had to interpret their actions as actually reaching a final impasse in some formalized way,” Engler said.

An impasse is when both sides have reached the end of what they can offer.

“The union would have given their best offer and the school board would have made their best offer and they would have called those final offers to each other. One of them has to prevail or the parties need to continue to negotiate,” Engler said.

The union was not satisfied with details of job security in their contract and what is covered under the insurance from their new provider.

“The union I am sure is going to challenge it by sending an unfair labor practice to Columbus saying ‘look, the school board and the union never reached a final or ultimate impasse,'” Engler said.

He said the unfair labor practice in Columbus will determine whether there was an ultimate impasse involved. It is unclear how long a decision on that would take.

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