CLEVELAND, OHIO – Over 800 workers at the Cleveland Metropolitan School District represented by the Service Employees International Union District 1199 have been working to negotiate a fair contract with school district executives since March, but CMSD executives have refused to work with employees, which left 25 unresolved issues that were sent to fact finding. Additionally, workers have filed Unfair Labor Practice (ULP) charges against CMSD for bargaining in bad faith during both bargaining and the Mutually Agreed Dispute (MAD) resolution process.
Workers overwhelmingly, nearly unanimously, rejected the fact finder’s report this week. The report recommendations would erode nearly four decades of bargaining history between workers and the district. Among the items rejected by employees are the elimination of vacation time for 10-month employees, the combination of several secretarial job classifications and the district’s desire to no longer use seniority as the determining factor for recalling workers who have been placed on layoff.
“What Nick Jackson and the CMSD administration are attempting to do to workers is reprehensible,” said Becky Williams, President of the Service Employees International Union District 1199. “More than half of our members use their vacation time to cover the wages they lose while schools are closed over the holidays, which would dramatically impact their ability to provide for themselves and their families.”
A proposal by CMSD administrators to combine several secretary classifications would give management the sole authority for determining position qualifications, which could open the district up to nepotism, cronyism, favoritism or discrimination, something that Cuyahoga County has seen too much of in the recent past, workers say.
“We have seen these types of attacks on workers’ rights in the past, but from anti-worker politicians in Columbus,” continued Williams. “We’ve rejected these kinds of ideas both here in Cleveland and across Ohio when voters came out to repeal Senate Bill 5 in 2011.”
The right of being recalled by seniority has been a bedrock principal of the collective bargaining agreement for the last 37 years and workers fear that management could use any mark on an employee’s personnel record as a reason not to recall an employee, using recall as an act of further discipline.
Workers remain hopeful that a fair agreement can be reached and urge Nick Jackson and the CMSD administration to return to the table and bargaining with workers.