As a sign of the times, Canal Winchester school teachers voted to accept a new, one-year contract with no increase in base pay.
The Canal Winchester Education Association (CWEA) union negotiated the contract before the beginning of summer break and, following a June 8 meeting, ratified the agreement, which includes the zero percent increase and other language revisions. According to CWEA co-president Jodi Klamfoth, the language changes were necessary since the previous contract was three years old.
Gone is a provision for retiring and then rehiring the same instructor as necessary. The district still retains the option to retire/rehire, but the provision is no longer a contract expectation due to changes at the state level.
"This is a very unique group," said Canal Winchester School Board President David Brobst in referring to the local union. "I’ve been in a lot of other negotiations where things weren’t as friendly or productive. I’ve negotiated fire contracts, police contracts, and forensic technician contracts, but this group came to the table with a good understanding of the district’s financial situation. There was a good sense of cooperation. There was no self-serving interest around the table. We have a good work environment and support from the administration. Still, at the end of the day, you have to retain good teachers and you have to weigh that against compensation."
Klamfoth and John-Paul Hoffman represented 206 union members during the June 21 school board meeting when the board unanimously approved the new contract.
"The overall process was very productive," said Hoffman, who said the union agreed to no increase as a result of a combination of factors, including the current state of the economy and passage of a two-year operating levy. "There are a lot of teachers out there losing their jobs and we want to keep people here in this district. The district is getting a lot of bang for their buck."
Brobst said it is significant that Canal Winchester teachers negotiated a zero percent contract increase, especially when their pay scale is at the bottom in comparison with other Central Ohio districts.
"The education of our kids means more to them than dollars and cents and they stepped up to the plate," stated Brobst.