Mansfield School Employees Protest At School Board Meeting

  • 3/19/2019 7:18:21 PM
  • Jenna Ramolt
  • Local News

MANSFIELD, OH - It was standing-room only at Tuesday's Mansfield Board of Education meeting as members of the Mansfield School Employee's Association (MSEA) collected to protest a lack of fair contract negotiations.

Protestors began to gather outside of the Board of Education offices on Cook Road just before 5:00 PM. Nearly 100 attendees chanted and raised signs that read, "Settle a fair contract for support staff and teachers now." According to MSEA's Second Vice President Amanda Clawson, teachers and support staff asked the board two months ago to settle their contracts quickly and fairly, but as of Tuesday, contracts had not yet been settled.

"We are going on 11 months of negotiating a contract for both teachers and support staff," Clawson said. "We're under two contracts, but we're all under one association. Tonight, we're just out here saying 'We've had enough.' We've been doing this for a long time, it's time to settle both our contracts. Two months ago, we pleaded to the board to get our contracts settled and Renda Cline, at the time, said 'You know we're going to do what's right,' and now, here we are two months later and we still don't have a contract to bring back to our members."

Clawson believes that the only thing preventing contracts from being approved is Board Members stalling the process.

"We really just think it's been a stalling tactic - I mean, we would present something on one of the articles in our contract, and they would come back with something totally different from another part of our contract. It's been a long time and we haven't gotten anything done," Clawson said. "I know they're making some progress, but they haven't even met with our support staff in several months. The certified contract, I think, is getting closer, but we still don't have something to bring to our members. We're hoping that the Board recognizes that it's time to step up, take some leadership role in what's going on with this contract, and get it done."

Teachers and staff were not the only people present at the protest- concerned parents were there to show their support, as well.

"Mansfield City Schools - public education, in general, is a bedrock of our community," said Joel Vega, whose son is a freshman at Mansfield City Schools. "They need to be well-funded, they need to be well-paid. My son is a freshman at the high school. He has a vested interest in these teachers getting a fair hearing and a fair contract from our school board."

Vega has previously worked as an adjunct professor and knows what it's like to teach without union representation and without contracts or fair pay. Vega, a Madison High School graduate, lives and works in the Mansfield area and wants his children to have the same learning opportunities he did - with instructors who receive benefits and pay that's fair to them.

"I want my teachers not to have to pay for paper and books out of their own pocket," Vega said. "I'm really hoping that the Board looks further into these contract negotiations and really takes it to heart that these teachers are citizens of the area, just like them, who need to make a good, livable wage. I hope they bring the contracts out into the light because from what I hear, there's really not a whole lot of openness and transparency in this whole process."

Negotiation with certified staff will take place over the course of two days next week, during which time Clawson hopes the contracts can be settled fairly. After that, negotiations will begin on behalf of support staff.

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