Garfield Heights Teachers Association Authorizes 10-Day Strike Notice

Vote occurred after five months of unsuccessful negotiations, teachers want more than lowest wages in Cuyahoga County

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The Garfield Heights Teachers Association voted unanimously Friday to authorize its negotiating team to issue a 10-day strike notice when they deem necessary. The vote, by more than 200 GHTA members, occurred after more than five months of unsuccessful contract negotiations with the Garfield Heights School District.

GHTA's Vice President Tim Duhanich said in a press release that the district has left the teachers union with limited options. After the negotiation process slowed, he said, GHTA requested a federal mediator to assist. The mediator sent out potential meeting dates on Sept. 15, all of which GHTA agreed to, but to which the district has not yet responded, according to the statement. 

"Our membership is ready for management to address the needs of our students and staff," he said. "It is our genuine hope that the Board's team will commit to working with us in negotiating a contract that ensures safety, stability and success in Garfield Heights City Schools."

The school district serves roughly 3,500 students in the city of Garfield Heights, a first ring suburb on Cleveland's southeast side.

GHTA spokeswoman Susan Hart said that Garfield City Schools had lost 280 teachers over the past 11 years and that she hoped a new contract would help reduce turnover. She said the extreme staff churn was a "direct result" of disrespect from management and the lowest wages in Cuyahoga County.

The Garfield Heights school district issued a statement in response that called the strike authorization vote a surprising "maneuver" that would hurt students and was unlikely to lead to compromise.

The district said it had already capitulated on a number of key provisions in the contract, including "increasing the financial package, recognizing staff committed to long-term employment with the district, and adjusting the pay associated with period substitutions." 

"The Garfield Heights City Schools is dedicated to the negotiating process and re-asserts its willingness to reach a fair contract with all parties while operating within the financial realities of the district," the statement read.

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Sam Allard

Sam Allard is the Senior Writer at Scene, in which capacity he covers politics and power and writes about movies when time permits. He's a graduate of the Medill School of Journalism at Northwestern University and the NEOMFA at Cleveland State. Prior to joining Scene, he was encamped in Sarajevo, Bosnia, on an...
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