Saturday, May 8, 2004

Finding awaited on CPS contract

Teachers, board submit to hearing

By Jennifer Mrozowski
The Cincinnati Enquirer

The Cincinnati school board and teachers union wrapped up a hearing on their contract dispute, and they now are awaiting findings from a state-appointed fact-finder later this month.

"I think (the union) presented a very solid case," said Sue Taylor, president of the Cincinnati Federation of Teachers.

"We have every confidence that the fact-finder, Mr. (Mitchell) Goldberg, will rule in our favor. ... The facts speak for themselves."

A school district spokeswoman said the district could offer no specifics on the closed-door hearing.

"By statute, which requires fact-finding to be private, we're confined to addressing procedural issues," said spokeswoman Janet Walsh.

The fact-finder was called in to resolve disputed portions of the contract.

Contract negotiations stalled after the school board rejected a tentative agreement negotiated by representatives for the board and the Cincinnati Federation of Teachers.

The board rejected the tentative agreement 4-3 on March 19, though teachers, who voted the same day, overwhelmingly approved the contract.

The fact-finder is to issue his report May 19, Walsh said. The board and union then have seven days to vote on it. The fact-finder report is binding unless 60 percent of either side rejects it.

The two sides began negotiating in December on a three-year contract for the district's 3,500 teachers, nurses and counselors.

Teachers are working under terms of the previous contract.

The tentative agreement included a 3.2 percent raise for teachers this year and smaller pay increases the following two years.

Several board members and Superintendent Alton Frailey said they could not support the contract, in part, because it did not include language to pay teachers on their teaching ability instead of seniority.

Union representatives have said the board team never suggested alternative pay proposals.


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