Teachers at Ohio’s largest school district vote to strike just before start of school year

Aug 22, 2022, 9:34 AM | Updated: Aug 23, 2022, 11:11 am
Aug 21, 2022; Columbus, Ohio, USA; Columbus teachers union members stream out of the convention cen...
Aug 21, 2022; Columbus, Ohio, USA; Columbus teachers union members stream out of the convention center after voting to strike; Picket lines to begin Monday morning. Union Strike Vote

(CNN) — Teachers at Ohio’s largest school district voted Sunday to go on strike for better learning and teaching conditions, just days before school is scheduled to start, according to the teachers’ union.

The Columbus Education Association union — which represents more than 4,000 teachers, nurses and other education professionals at the Columbus City Schools district — is striking for the first time since 1975 after 94% of its members voted to reject the school board’s “last, best and final offer,” the union said Sunday on Twitter.

Just a day before the vote in Ohio, a union representing about 2,000 School District of Philadelphia employees voted to authorize a strike for higher wages and adequate training programs — just over one week before school there is set to start.

In Columbus, the union cited class sizes and functional heating and air conditioning in classrooms as examples of points of disagreement with the board, according to Columbus Education Association’s notice of intent to strike.

“We will continue fighting until we have safe, properly maintained and fully resourced schools in every neighborhood,” union spokesperson Regina Fuentes said at a news conference Monday.

The Columbus Board of Education called the outcome of the vote “disappointing.”

“Tonight’s vote by the Columbus Education Association (CEA) is incredibly disappointing. We are saddened by the unfortunate situation our families, our community and, most importantly, our children now face,” a statement from the board said.

The board will hold an emergency meeting Monday, according to its website.

Columbus City Schools serves 47,000 students, according to the district.

Despite the strike, the school year is still scheduled to begin Wednesday, with classes online and led by substitutes, according to the school district’s website.

The district’s own administrators may also teach online classes as the strike continues, it said. But since teachers make up most of the district’s coaching staff, sports activities may be rescheduled or canceled, according to the website.

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Teachers at Ohio’s largest school district vote to strike just before start of school year