Unions take next step toward strike

By Amanda Crowe Editor

December 11, 2013

FAIRBORN — The Fairborn Education Association (FEA) and Fairborn Classified Employees Association (FCEA) have made the necessary preparations to go on strike.

According to union spokesman Brian McWhorter, the Strike Investigation Committee, which consists of representatives of other local education unions, recommended that the Ohio Education Association sanction a strike by the FEA/FCEA pending the filing of proper notice of intent to strike with the Ohio State Employee Relations Board (SERB).

“A strike can commence when the proper paperwork has been filed with the State Employee Relations Board giving the Fairborn City School Board of Education a ten day notice,” McWhorter said. “No specific date has been set for a strike to occur.”

During a press conference Thursday, McWhorter explained that the unions were waiting for the results of the SERB hearing set to begin Feb. 19, 2014, which will determine if the Fairborn school board acted illegally in repudiating the union contracts.

“Both the FEA and FCEA are eagerly awaiting the findings of the hearing and anticipate a favorable ruling,” said McWhorter, who explained that if SERB rules in favor of the unions, the district will have to honor the previous contracts.

“On Oct. 24 members decided that to go on strike before the ruling would be a bit preemptive,” he said.

The SERB hearing was originally set for Jan. 9. McWhorter said that if it is pushed back again, many union members will likely push for a strike. The unions represent more than 350 teachers, faculty members and support staff in Fairborn City Schools.

“We as a membership have to decide if we are willing to endure more than two more months of the conditions they’ve placed upon us which we feel are unfair,” McWhorter said. “We care about our kids, we want the kids in school, but how long can we continue to work for a district that has failed to honor a contract they signed two years ago?”

Ohio Representative Fred Strahorn spoke in support of the teachers and support staff.

“Teachers don’t want to strike,” said Strahorn, who shared that he is the son of a teacher. “Teachers don’t want to be out of the classroom. If teachers feel that is necessary they’re only doing it as a last resort. The things they are arguing for are not just for their individual families, they are asking for things for your kids.”

Strahorn stated that the way schools are funded needs to change and that state legislation has shifted a lot of costs to the local communities.

“We are asking teachers to do the same hard work every year while the money they are working with is worth less and less each year and that’s not fair,” Strahorn said. “The Fairborn teachers and staff have already agreed to a pay freeze after they haven’t had one in three years. It’s not about more money. They are just asking or fundamental fairness…I’m here to urge the board to sit down in good faith negotiations and let cooler heads prevail to hammer out a good contract.”

McWhorter said the FEA and FCEA are also disappointed with the board’s decision to move their regularly scheduled meeting from Thursday evening to Friday morning.

“The teachers and support staff of Fairborn are now unable to attend the monthly meeting of the board or the reception honoring the service of two outgoing board members,” said the spokesman. “The change also severely limits community participation. No reason has been provided by the board for the unprecedented move of their meeting.”

Contact Amanda Crowe at acrowe@civitasmedia.com or 878-3993 ext. 134.