Dayton teachers vote to authorize strike if talks don’t ‘improve’

Credit: DaytonDailyNews

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Dayton School Strike Notice

Credit: DaytonDailyNews

Dayton Public School teachers voted Thursday to authorize a strike “should the status of contract negotiations not improve.”

The district’s contract with the Dayton Education Association expires June 30, and contract negotiations are ongoing since Jan. 6, including the use of a federal mediator.

EARLIER: Dayton teachers rally outside board meeting as talks continue

Items remaining on the table, according to the union, include wages and benefits.

“Despite over 150 hours at the table, the DEA is greatly troubled by the Board’s refusal to recognize their teachers as professionals and meet their teachers, even halfway, on several key provisions,” said David Romick, DEA president, in a statement. “Tonight’s vote should sound an alarm: the Dayton Public Schools are in a crisis.”

Reached by this newspaper, Superintendent Rhonda Corr said the vote “sends a message they’re serious.”

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“But what I would say is, I too am very serious and my board is as well,” Corr said. “There will be some back and forth, but at the end of the day I absolutely respect my teachers and our employees.”

“I just hope the two sides can come closer together,” she said.

If the strike occurred, it would be the second public worker strike to disrupt the school year after Greater Dayton Regional Transit Authority bus and trolley drivers walked off the job in January, stranding several hundred DPS high school students.

RELATED: DPS students stranded during RTA strike

Last month, hundreds of teachers rallied outside a board meeting. At that time, union officials said areas of disagreement included teacher pay, the need for guidance counselors and staffed libraries in DPS schools, a move to five-day preschool, and more.

Reached by phone Thursday night, Romick said this full-union vote gives the group’s small negotiations team the power to issue a strike notice in the future if things don’t improve.

Even if they go that route, a strike notice would not mean the teachers were definitely going on strike. A strike notice is a legal requirement, giving the school board 10 days warning that a strike was possible.

“We would still have to go back to the full membership after that to take an actual strike vote (to walk out),” Romick said.

The last day of DPS’ school year is May 26, so for a strike to take place this school year, that notice would have to be given in the next 10 days.

Romick said impasse was declared in negotiations on April 17, and the parties’ first time with the federal mediator was Thursday. He said the mediator spent Thursday suggesting “if-then” scenarios where if one side compromised on Issue A, the other side might give on Issue B.

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