Youngstown teachers union approves 10-day strike notice
The union that represents the 400+ educators and staff of the Youngstown City School District has approved a 10-day strike notice against the district Tuesday.
According to the Youngstown Education Association press release, the strike is set to begin on August 23, which is the first scheduled day for Youngstown schools.
The press release states:
On August 8, the Youngstown Education Association (YEA) filed a 10-Day Notice of Intent to Strike or Picket with the Ohio State Employment Relations Board (SERB) and the Youngstown City Schools Board of Education. YEA has designated August 23 as the first day of the strike, if the Board of Education fails to deliver a fair contract agreement that will allow Youngstown’s teachers to effectively meet the needs of their students.
The released statement said “A strike is absolutely a last resort and YEA members are heartbroken that it may come to this because of the administration’s dysfunction and unwillingness to come to the table to work with the district’s dedicated educators to create the learning conditions our students deserve under local control,” said YEA Spokesperson Jim Courim, an eighth grade English Language Arts teacher at Chaney Middle School.
“We want nothing more than to be in our classrooms with our students to start a great school year, and we remain ready to bargain anytime to reach a fair agreement.”
According to the YEA, the Board and the Administration have attempted to negotiate a successor contract since early April, but the Board team canceled negotiation dates.
The release also stated that the board and administration refused to conduct a search for a new superintendent after 21 News reported alleged spending improprieties by former superintendent Justin Jennings, which led to his resignation, among other impediments to the process.
The release continued claiming that in three recent sessions with a federal mediator after the parties declared an impasse, the board made no attempt to collaborate with YEA "in building a locally controlled school district for the betterment of Youngstown’s students."
“Unfortunately, the Board has its own agenda, and now that is directly threatening our students as the Board continues to rebuff all of our efforts to make a resolution simple and attainable ahead of the new school year,” Courim said. “We remain hopeful that the Board will get its priorities in order and finish
these negotiations quickly, so we can get back to the work we all want to be doing, getting ready for an excellent new year with the students we have dedicated our careers to serving.”
The YEA contract with the district ended on June 30. On July 28, the union issued a notice to strike after negotiations with YCSD broke down.
YEA spokesperson Jim Courim told 21 News that the goal is the get the administrators and the board back to the table for the students, the community and the staff.
Courim said the main sticking point between the YEA and the administration is that the previous contract contains language that pertains to the Academic Distress Commission, which predates House Bill 70, which gave the state control of the district.
Courim said that the union is looking to remove this language that limits the union's ability to "have a seat at the table," Courim said. He said that this language in the contract limits the union's ability to negotiate or grievance on issues or concerns.
Courim also said that the district received $77 million in Federal funds in 2020 and 2021 due to the pandemic, but now is facing a $1 million deficit.
Stacy Quiñones, the Communications and Public Relations Director for the YCSD emailed a response stating that a statement from the district would be provided Wednesday but said that they were surprised by the strike notification.
Quiñones said that the union had recently requested a fact-finding mediation process last week. She also said the superintendent informed the union bargaining team at their last meeting of a willingness to return to the table with the FMCS mediator.
Here is the letter released by the YEA: