Showing: 1 - 2 of 2 RESULTS

Cleveland Heights-University Heights teachers’ union declines ‘last, best, final’ contract offer, with more talks set

UNIVERSITY HEIGHTS, Ohio — The Cleveland Heights-University Heights Board of Education and district teachers are set to return to the bargaining table on Nov. 5 after the union overwhelmingly rejected the latest contract offer last week.

What was implemented by the school board on Sept. 29 as the district’s “last, best and final offer” was voted down by the nearly 500-member Cleveland Heights Teachers Union by a tally of 437 to 11, with one abstention.

There were also 41 members who either did not return their ballots or turned them in late. Factoring them in as well, that worked out to 89 percent of the membership voting to decline the board’s offer, CHTU president Karen Rego said.

“Of the ones who voted, it was 97.5 percent” rejecting the contract offer and further authorizing the American Federation of Teachers Local 795 executive board to strike.

That in turn would require a 10-day advance notice of intent to strike being presented to the school board, which had not happened with another round of talks now scheduled.

“We are planning to negotiate Nov. 5, so that is positive movement,” Rego said. “We always want to stay at the table until we come to an agreement.”

While the CH-UH school board voted to implement the one-year contract so that it would otherwise go into effect on Jan. 1, board president Jodi Sourini said earlier that the district remains under a “continued duty” to negotiate.

“We will also meet any continuing bargaining obligation in the event the union shows a willingness to make meaningful change,” Sourini said on Oct. 2.

The teachers’ union remains receptive to surmounting the impasse that the school board cited in its Sept. 29 contract vote.

“In order to come together, both sides are going to have to come up with a creative settlement,” Rego said Monday (Oct. 12).

The union’s most recent one-year contract ended June 30, with nearly 60 hours of negotiations taking place from June 11 through August 19, including the use of a federal mediator beginning in July 2020.

The mediator is also expected to be back at the bargaining table on Nov. 5, two days after “Issue 69,” a proposed 4.8-mill operating levy, appears on the ballot.

“Since the levy outcome is unknown we don’t know if the district offer will change,” Rego added Monday. “Our demands remain the same at this time.”

Points of contention

Rego also disputed the $1 million price tag that the school board has claimed the teachers’ latest contract proposal would cost the district.

“We don’t believe that the ‘$1 million’ (figure) is an accurate number,” Rego said.

In a Sept. 30 statement released by the district, officials said that the school board and the teachers’ union “reached agreement on nearly all of the non-monetary issues” and certain monetary ones.

These tentatively agreed-upon points include supplemental contracts, support for co-teachers, and additional monetary support for disability and life insurance.

At the same time, the side failed to “failed to reach an

University Heights’ finances looking better after city takes in additional $461,000 in CARES Act money

UNIVERSITY HEIGHTS, Ohio — Although it is uncertain what lies ahead, the city’s finances are looking a lot better these days after University Heights recently received an additional $461,000 in federal CARES Act money to help it deal with COVID-related expenses.

Gov. Mike DeWine, by signing into law House Bill 614 Oct. 1 allowed for the distribution of an additional $650 million to local governments across Ohio, bringing the total of money distributed to Ohio governments to $1.2 billion. The added $461,000 means that University Heights has now received just over $1.1 million in relief money.

“At first, we didn’t know if we’d get any (CARES Act) money,” said Mayor Michael Dylan Brennan. But, now that the city has been granted the money, Brennan, in his report at the start of Monday’s (Oct. 5) City Council meeting, told of how the aid has significantly closed the gap on what was once a projected $2-million deficit the city faced.

With the added funding, Brennan also plans to pay city employees money they had to forego by working four-day weeks over the course of 20 weeks, beginning in June. Brennan announced at the council meeting that the furloughs, that were to carry on until Oct. 31, were ending earlier than planned.

Initially, when faced with a possible $2-million shortfall, the administration and council worked to reduce the city’s spending by about $1 million. The reduction was made, among other things, by putting off this year’s road repair program, instituting the furloughs, and, due to the pandemic, not having to spend money on opening the city’s pools or in programming summer activities.

“While tax revenues remain down from this point last year,” Brennan reported to council, “for everything we have been through, we are down just 1 percent from this time last year. Rather than $2 million, we are down overall approximately $250,000 from original projections.

“The $1.06 million in budget cuts we made in June more than cover that, though many of those things are expenses that were deferred, like the roads program. The actions we took in June did not contemplate the receipt of CARES Act money. We hoped for such funds, we could not assume we would received them.”

Recent changes in U.S. Treasury guidelines for spending CARES Act money allow the city to use the funds to restore municipal operations, instead of having to spend the money on only COVID-related expenses.

“After consulting with the vice mayor (Michele Weiss), our finance director (Dennis Kennedy) and law director (Luke McConville), effective with the pay period ending Oct 3, the furlough and salary reductions are ended, and the full salaries and wages of the affected employees are restored,” Brennan announced. “Council members received an email this afternoon (Oct. 5) from the finance director: those of us elected officials who took a voluntary reduction need simply confirm to the finance director that you are waiving no further income from our positions.

“What does this mean for the public? For one thing,