EAST LIVERPOOL, Ohio (WYTV) – Teachers in East Liverpool are still fighting for a contract after their last one expired in August.
More than 100 teachers filled the auditorium at West Gate Middle School for Monday’s Board of Education meeting. Many of them were wearing pins that said “I am the ELEA,” which stands for the East Liverpool Education Association, the union that represents them.
“I have been there for 31 years. I worked my way up to earn those rights and I don’t want to lose any,” said ELEA spokesman Quinn Carter.
Without going into detail, Carter said keeping those rights are what he and nearly 200 other teachers are fighting for.
East Liverpool Schools Superintendent Dr. Melissa Watson said she understands the importance of a contract.
“Teachers are the most important aspect of any school district and we certainly want them to have security in addition to all the other things that they need to be effective in the classroom,” Watson said.
Although the majority of the audience were teachers without contracts, discussing those contracts was not on the agenda.
During the meeting, Watson presented the strategic plan to improve learning for students in the district.
The union released a statement saying, “Superintendent Melissa Watson has refused to move both on major non-financial professional issues and financial issues, thus blocking the ability of the parties to reach a fair and equitable agreement. No additional negotiations sessions have been scheduled at this time.”
Watson said contract discussions are happening behind the scenes.
“The contract is actually for the benefit of both parties, for the administration and the teachers. It is a promise made to each other and a bond to be kept throughout the duration of that contract,” Carter said.
The union said they are not sure how much longer they will be in negotiations, but they are in this fight for the long run.
“We want to give and they want to take and vice-versa. So you are not going to get it right the first time, the second time, the third time,” Quinn said.
When the union leader was asked if they would consider a strike, he said it’s too early to tell right now and that is the last resort.