Saturday, January 22, 2000

Teachers win one round in contract dispute

Fact-finder mostly sides with CFT

The Cincinnati Enquirer

        An independent fact-finder has sided with the Cincinnati Federation of Teachers on most of the 27 issues the union and Cincinnati Public Schools could not resolve in their efforts to forge a new contract.

        In a report released Friday,state-appointed fact-finder Marcus Hart Sandver recommended a compromise on salary increases. He also recommended no changes from the current contract on several issues.

        The 38-page report will become binding for the district's 3,200 teachers unless the board or union members reject it by a three-fifths vote by Friday. The union will meet Monday to vote on it, and the board will vote on it Friday.

        If either side rejects it, both sides have to return to the bargaining table. The current contract, which was to expire Dec. 31, was extended through Feb. 7.

        Cincinnati Federation of Teachers President Tom Mooney declined to comment on the report until he talked to other union leaders.

        Attorney Mark Stepaniak, who represents the district, said the report represented “very little change.”

        “It's mostly the status quo, and from our standpoint, the status quo doesn't advance our reform agenda,” Mr. Stepaniak said.

        Major recommendations in the report included:

        • Salary: CFT wanted 4 percent pay raises a year. Administrators wanted to freeze teacher salaries until August and then give 2 percent annual raises for the three-year contract's last two years.

        Mr. Sandver noted that CPS teachers are the highest-paid among Ohio's urban districts and second-highest-paid in Hamilton County. He recommended a 2 percent raise in the contract's first year and 3 percent raises in each of its

        final two years. Teacher salaries in Cincinnati schools now range from $29,300 to $60,650.

        Mr. Stepaniak said the district has no money to pay for raises if two March levies totaling $104 million don't pass.

        • Hiring: CPS wanted to remove requirements that schools with vacancies first hire from the district's “surplus pool,” or CPS teachers displaced due to reorganization, transfers and other reasons. Schools should be able to hire qualified teachers, wherever they find them, administrators ar gued. Under the CPS plan, surplus-pool teachers not placed after one year wouldn't be renewed.

        That plan “sacrifices critical rights of "surplussed' teachers,” Mr. Sandver said in rejecting the CPS plan.

        • Charter schools: CFT wanted existing CPS schools that convert into charter schools to use district teachers. Administrators wanted those schools to hire whom they want. Mr. Sandver recommended no additional safeguards for teachers; the labor agreement would adequately protect teachers' jobs, he wrote.


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