The full Negotiating Team representing the Strongsville Education Association (SEA) met with Tom Perciak, the Mayor of Strongsville early Friday morning on March 22, 2013.
The meeting was called in an attempt to reach a settlement that would hopefully end the teachers' strike, which is now wrapping up its third week.
While the Mayor had previously invited all five Board members, none took him up on the offer.
While the SEA Team members were disappointed by the Board's absolute refusal to meet in person to negotiate a settlement, the SEA Team was thankful that the Mayor extended the opportunity to the parties. "On behalf of the SEA, I would like to personally thank Mayor Perciak for graciously offering up time in his schedule to meet with the SEA and the Board. While I am certainly disappointed by the Board's refusal to meet with the Mayor and the SEA in order to explore a possible settlement, we are appreciative of his efforts and for the wealth of experience he brings to the process," said SEA President Tracy Linscott.
Based upon the advice and recommendations of Mayor Perciak, whose previous experience in settling fifteen different labor agreements proved invaluable, the SEA Negotiating Team has prepared a comprehensive counterproposal to the Last Best Offer issued by the Board on March 2nd.
The new offer includes over $300,000 in proposed savings to the district, including significant additional concessions on insurance and the elimination of future VPGs.
Reports quote Linscott as stating, "What can I say; while this is the second time we have countered our own counter in order to get the Board to move off of their Last Best Offer, the recommendations of the Mayor went a long way towards convincing us that it was the right thing to do. I just wish the Board would take him up on his offer. If he can convince us to move, I'm sure he could convince the Board to move if only they would come to his office to meet with the teachers."
While the Board continues to insist that the parties can only meet when the Mediator calls a session, the reality is that even the Mediator has publicly stated that the parties can meet at any time without the assistance of Federal Mediation and Conciliation Service (FMCS).
Furthermore, the Collective Bargaining Agreement (CBA) between the parties only requires the use of FMCS until a Last Best Offer is implemented or the teachers exercise their right to strike.
Said Linscott, "For Dave Frazee to continually cite expired language that even the Mediator has said is no longer binding upon the parties speaks volumes. It's time for the Board to stop hiding, do the right thing, and start talking to their teachers. This strike won't end until they do."
SEA urges parents to contact their school board members to demand that the board become actively involved in negotiation.
Also at around 11 a.m. more than 100 students walked out of Strongsville High School Friday to encourage both sides in a stalled teachers strike to work it out.
When we asked if anything was done to stop the walk out, student organizer Louie LaQuatra said, "They recommended not to do it for safety reasons, for inclement weather."
As the march of students continued down Pearl Road towards the gazebo in the center of town, striking teachers followed behind.
Then at the gazebo, student leaders gave speeches while teachers watched from the sidewalk.
The strike has been tense, with picketing teachers screaming at substitute teachers, as well as blocking the entrances to schools.
This was the students' last chance to take a stand, they're on Spring Break next week.
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