Brecksville-Broadview Heights Schools Resolve Union Contract Dispute
A months-long labor dispute finally came to an end at the Brecksville-Broadview Heights City School District Board of Education meeting on August 27, as school board members voted 4-1 to approve the contract tentatively agreed upon with the teachers’ union last week.
While the newly approved contract has not been made public at this time, the Cleveland Plain Dealer has reported that the Brecksville-Broadview Heights Education Association (BEA) agreed to pay 15 percent of individual health insurance premiums as opposed to the 8 percent initially proposed. As a result, 85 percent of teachers’ health insurance premiums will be paid for by Brecksville-Broadview Heights taxpayers instead of the 92 percent coverage that the union wanted.
BEA also gave ground on the issue of workday length, agreeing to eight hour work days instead of the seven-and-a-half hour workdays previously asked for.
A contract breakthrough was reached early the morning of August 23 during negotiations facilitated by a federal labor mediator. Tryon credited the federal mediator for helping resolve the months-long dispute.
In June 2012, union representatives accused the board of education of “forcing a strike” by asking for a federal labor mediator to step in, stating that the move was part of “a narrowly focused union-busting agenda,” pursued “no matter what the cost is to the children they were elected to serve.”
While contract negotiation stalled BEA and Ohio Education Association affiliates elsewhere in the state agitated for a strike, accusing the school board of “Tea Party extremism.” The union expressed outrage after the school board publicized the current BEA contract, ratcheting up rhetoric and attempting to pressure the district into meeting union demands.
Media Trackers has previously reported that Brecksville-Broadview Heights teacher pay increased dramatically from 2005-2010 while local per capita income dropped.
According to Brecksville Patch reporter Rachel Abbey McCafferty, district treasurer Rick Berdine believes the contract agreements salary and insurance components may save an estimated $6 million if the union agrees to extend the contract into an optional fourth year.
School board president David Tryon cautioned “our budget problems are not over.”
Board member Mark Dosen, the only school board member to vote against approving the contract, warned that “the district still needs to save or raise additional money, and that can only happen through higher taxes, layoffs, or lower salary and benefit levels.”
BEA spokesman Joe Zenir was contacted for comment regarding whether the BEA still believes the school board is pursuing an agenda of “Tea Party extremism,” but did not reply by the time of this articles publication.