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Teachers union votes to authorize 10-day strike notice at Columbus City Schools.

CEA spokesperson Regina Fuentes after union strike authorization vote.
CEA spokesperson Regina Fuentes after union strike authorization vote.

Thursday night the Columbus Education Association moved one step closer to calling a strike at Columbus City schools before the start of the school year.

After a two-hour meeting of more than half the unions 4,500 teachers and support staff, leaders emerged to say they had won authorization to issue a 10-day notice of intent to strike if no progress is made on stalled contract talks. CEA spokesperson Regina Fuentes says the unions objectives have remained the same since talks began in March.

"We are asking for smaller class sizes; full time arts, music and PE teachers at the elementary levels; functioning heating and cooling in all of our classrooms; sufficient planning time; a cap on the number of class periods during the school day; and other working conditions that recruit and retain the best educators for our students."

Fuentes says the union could file the 10-day intent notice between now and August 11th, and could be on the picket line as early as August 22 - the day teachers are expected to return to the classroom, and two days before students come back.

"We don't want to strike. But our students, teachers and community deserve a contract that supports and bolsters learning conditions. Our vote should send a strong message to the board to return to the bargaining table immediately."

In a press conference Wednesday school board president Jennifer Adair and board members Carol Beckerle and Christina Vera insisted the board has met many of the union's goals, including raises, a plan to reduce class sizes, stipends for training, and an increase in planning periods. But the board also filed a charge of unfair labor practice against the teachers union, alleging it was not bargaining in good faith.

The two sides have not met since July 28th, and there are no new meetings scheduled. In a statement released Thursday night Adair seemed to leave the door open to continued talks. But she also said that district is: "well prepared for an alternate opening should a strike actually take place."

A native of Chicago, naturalized citizen of Cincinnati and resident of Columbus, Alison attended Earlham College and the Ohio State University. She has equal passion for Midwest history, hockey and Slavic poetry.