From the archives: Dayton teachers ratify contract, end 1993 strike

The last time teachers in Dayton Public Schools went on strike (1993), this building still belonged to Reynolds & Reynolds. JEREMY P. KELLEY / STAFF

Combined ShapeCaption
The last time teachers in Dayton Public Schools went on strike (1993), this building still belonged to Reynolds & Reynolds. JEREMY P. KELLEY / STAFF

This story first appeared in the Dayton Daily News on April 19, 1993

By David E. Kepple and Janice Haidet

Staff Writers

Jubilant Dayton teachers quickly and overwhelmingly ratified a new four-year contract Sunday night, ensuring that they would be back in classrooms today.

“Heigh-ho, heigh-ho, it’s back to school we go,” a group of teachers sang merrily in the parking lot outside Hara Arena after about 1,300 members of the Dayton Education Association dispensed with secret ballots and took a standing vote to seal the new deal.

The action officially ended a 16-day strike. An estimated 98 percent of those present approved the contract, which covers the period from April 1, 1993, to Dec. 31, 1996.

RELATED: Dayton hiring teachers, but will they land on picket line?

The vote came rapidly with only one question and no discussion. Dunbar High School teacher Mattie Hudson said, “We’re professionals. We know how to get things done. We’re good - and we’re never going to be the same again.”

“I’m ecstatic,” DEA President G. Keith Haws said after the vote. “The students are going to have the people that know how to teach them best back in there tomorrow.”

The union represents 1,900 teachers and 300 librarians, nurses and counselors. Haws told assembled teachers before the vote, “This strike was about more than money. Today, we have pride, self-respect, dignity, a new and intense camaraderie, (and) we know who our friends are and who our enemies are.”

Haws said later he didn’t expect any reprisals by teachers against co-workers who were dubbed “scabs” for crossing picket lines to work.

RELATED: School strikes rare; Dayton only Ohio district on the verge

“You can’t make somebody like somebody, and I won’t pretend that that’s so,” Haws said. “But by the same token, I expect teachers to act with the same dignity and integrity as they did on those picket lines. There were no incidents. Nobody got touched.”

Nevertheless, a list of those who crossed picket lines, broken down by school, circulated at Sunday night’s meeting. Jone West, a member of the union negotiating team, said she was sure there will be hard feelings, and noted that Fairport Middle School led the district with 16 teachers who crossed lines.

“It’s going to be very hard,” said West, who teaches at E.J. Brown Elementary, the only district school where 100 percent of the teachers went out on strike. “We’ll all be praying that Fairport, tomorrow, can come up with the strength to get through the day.”

“People did what they thought they had to do,” said Hickorydale Elementary School teacher Pamela Johnson. “It’s going to be hard for some people… . The main thing is, I’m ready to go back to my kids.”

RELATED: Dayton teachers’ document spells out contested issues

Most of the teachers hurrying out of Hara seemed buoyant.

“Hurrah! Hurrah! This is over!” shouted one woman, who was wearing a bright yellow button that said, “The Many, The Proud, The United … DEA.”

“We’re happy. We deserved everything we got,” said teacher Eloise Washington, as she sprinted to catch up with a colleague.

Superintendent James Williams said he plans to meet administrators at 4:30 p.m. today to discuss various post-strike matters, such as rescheduling California Achievement Tests that were postponed by the strike.

No makeup days are planned, however, because no school days were canceled during the strike. Attendance plummeted during the work stoppage. Thirty percent to 35 percent of the district’s approximately 27,600 pupils showed up for class during the strike.

The board’s official policy is that grading procedures remained in effect during the strike, and that assignments were being given, graded and counted. But Williams said after the tentative settlement was reached that students “are not really going to be penalized,” and would be given a chance to make up assignments.

School board member the Rev. William Augman applauded the ratification and said the district must move immediately to heal wounds caused by the strike.

“There are going to be some hard feelings, but the gesture has to be made by the board and the superintendent.”

When the Revs. Raleigh Trammell and John Cunningham entered the meeting midway through a review of the contract proposal, the teachers gave them a standing ovation. Union leaders have credited the ministers, along with Miami Valley AFL-CIO director Wes Wells, with playing a pivotal role in breaking the deadlock April 9.

“I honestly feel if it wasn’t for these two gentlemen and Wes Wells, we’d still be out on strike,” Roberta Hunter, a labor relations consultant from the Ohio Education Association, told the teachers.

Staff writer Afi-Odelia E. Scruggs contributed to this story.

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NEGOTIATION TIMELINE

* February 1992: Contract talks begin between Dayton City School District and Dayton Education Association.

* April 15: Teachers’ contract expires but is temporarily extended while talks continue.

* October: Both sides agree to stop talks until after a Nov. 4 vote on the 10.4-mill property tax.

* Nov. 4: The 10.4-mill school levy passes.

* Nov. 5: Talks resume.

* Feb. 25, 1993: Teachers union notifies the administration of its intent to strike March 17 if no settlement is reached.

* March 16: Teachers vote to strike, but delay walkout a week after there is movement at the table.

* March 24: Teachers vote again on a strike and overwhelmingly approve a walkout.

* March 25: Strike begins; schools remain open, but on the first day, there is chaos in the classroom.

* March 28: Talks resume under the auspices of federal mediator Steve Anderson.

* March 31: Anderson suggests the teachers return to the classroom while unresolved issues are settled through binding arbitration.

* April 1: Union rejects binding arbitration as proposed; talks break off again.

* April 7: School Superintendent James Williams and union President G. Keith Haws announce start of marathon talks aiming for a settlement by Easter Sunday. The announcement follows a private meeting at which representatives from the clergy, labor and business urge Williams and Haws to settle.

* April 8: Talks resume about 10 a.m. and continue on and off until 4:30 a.m. April 9.

* April 9: Shuttle negotiations take the place of face-to-face bargaining, with labor leader Wes Wells and the Revs. Raleigh Trammell and John Cunningham serving as middlemen.

* 6:35 p.m. April 9: Haws and Williams announce a tentative agreement, ending the strike after 16 days.

* April 12: With the encouragement of the union, teachers return for classes at Valerie Elementary and Fairview Elementary - the district’s two year-round schools, where a three-week break coincided with the strike.

* April 18: Teachers approve a four-year contract.

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CONTRACT DETAILS

Major provisions of tentative contract between the Dayton City School District and the Dayton Education Association include:

* Length: April 1, 1993 to Dec. 31, 1996

* Salary: Teachers would get a 2 percent raise retroactive to April 1; 4 percent on Sept. 1; 4 percent on Sept. 1, 1994; and 5 percent on Jan 1, 1996. That means a teacher currently making $33,577 annually - roughly the average salary for district teachers - would get $38,896 by Jan. 1, 1996.

* Mandatory training: Both graduate courses and credit from seminars and workshops would count toward step raises.

* Incentive pay: Teachers could get a 1.5 percent bonus on Sept 1, 2 percent on Sept. 1, 1995; and 2.5 percent on Sept. 1, 1996, based on innovative curriculum proposals, missing no more than 7.5 days annually, and a building-wide increase in student scores on standard or proficiency tests.

* Health insurance: Teachers would pay 5 percent of health insurance premiums starting Sept. 1; 10 percent starting Sept. 1, 1994; and 15 percent starting Sept. 1, 1995.

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