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Cleveland Heights Teachers Union files notice to strike after contract negotiations fail

Union representatives say that they failed to meet a "fair contract."

CLEVELAND HEIGHTS, Ohio — The Cleveland Heights Teachers Union (CHTU) has filed a notice to strike following recent negotiations over new contracts. 

In a press release on Friday, the CHTU said that despite back-and-forth conversations with the Cleveland Heights-University Heights School District, a decision over a new contract was not met.  

“We’re fighting for a fair contract because we know that the alternative -- lowering standards for teachers and staff -- will increase turnover and drive experienced, skilled educators out of our school district,” said CHTU President Karen Rego.

CHTU says that the school district's Board of Education has cut benefits, included healthcare compensation and retirement assistance. In addition to healthcare costing upwards of $4,000 a year under the new contracts, CHTU says that educators could see as much as eight-percent lost from their annual wages. 

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“Our schools are facing unprecedented challenges due to COVID-19 and remote learning,” said CHTU 2nd Vice-President Tamar Gray. “Teachers and staff have been working harder than ever and rising to meet these challenges. But at the same time, our district’s Board has been fighting to push us backward on wages and benefits. We can’t continue to do more with less.”

The teachers union says that in addition to the costly expenses of healthcare and retirement benefits issues, raises have been far lower than numbers supported by the cost of living within the district. 

“We understand the financial state of our school district, especially the impact of voucher deductions in our district,” said 1st Vice-President Ari Klein. “We’re committed to working together with our Board to change state policy and end the harmful EdChoice voucher deductions. We’re disappointed that instead, our Board has chosen to attack the teachers and staff who keep this school district running.”

UPDATE: On Friday evening, the Cleveland Heights-University Heights Board of Education gave the below statement on the teacher strike to 3News:

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