CH-UH Teachers Union Strike Then Reach Agreement

Cleveland, OH (12-2-20 7:00am) - 500 educators in the Cleveland Heights-University Heights City School District went on strike Wednesday morning.

The members of the Cleveland Heights Teachers Union (CHTU) say they are striking in response to the district’s unilateral imposition of a new contract that slashes retirement and health benefits, costing many members $3,000-5,000 a year in losses.

"Union members are taking this step because lowering standards in the district will increase turnover and drive experienced, skilled educators out of the school district, impacting the quality of education for our students," the CHTU wrote in its statement announcing the strike.

The Cleveland Heights-University Heights City School District says state law, not the will of the Board, will mandate that those picketing will lose their health benefits.

The school district also noted that employees are eligible to continue their health benefits through COBRA during the strike, but will be responsible for paying for the coverage. The union, meanwhile, stated that its strike comes after "the district unilaterally imposed the terms of their final contract proposal, which will raise healthcare premiums to 250% of the current rate, while also reducing other compensation by 1%. For many CHTU members that adds up to a $3,000-$5,000 loss in total compensation."

(Updated 12-2-20 4:00pm) - Teachers and support staff were pulled from the picket lines Wednesday morning just hours into a strike and in the afternoon a tentative agreement was reached.

The roughly 500 Cleveland Heights Teachers Union members were protesting what they say is an unfair contract from the school district impacting retirement and health benefits. They said that would lead to increased turnover and drive out experienced workers.

The district said their financial situation is dire and the current healthcare plan is not sustainable.  

Wednesday afternoon, the following statement was released by Elizabeth Kirby, Superintendent of the CH-UH City School District; Jodi Sourini, President of the CH-UH City School District Board of Education; and Karen Rego, President of the Cleveland Heights Teachers Union:

“We are pleased to inform our families, staff, and community members that a tentative agreement has been reached between the CH-UH Board of Education and the Cleveland Heights Teachers Union. The parties negotiated all of last night and into the morning, ultimately agreeing on important compromises for the good of our students and community. Due to negotiations going until 6:30 a.m., some Union members arrived to picket unaware that a tentative agreement was already near completion. We are happy that a strike was averted and students’ education will not be interrupted. Above all else, we are relieved that our teachers will be exactly where they’re needed – with their students. A tentative agreement means that the bargaining teams have reached agreement on the contract’s terms, but the contract is not yet ratified. The Union will take the tentative agreement to its membership for a ratification vote, and the District bargaining team will present it to the Board for its approval as well.

Photo courtesy of CH-UH School District

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