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Rally For Switzerland Of Ohio Teachers

By Randy Rutherford - Staff Writer | Dec 16, 2020

Around 200 people marched in support of the Switzerland of Ohio Education Association in Woodsfield on Thursday evening, December 10, 2020. The rally began at the Monroe County Courthouse and concluded at the Board of Education office on 101 North Main Street.

Karissa Woodell, Spokesperson for the SOEA said the union members hoped the rally would help speed up negotiations toward a new contract. Quoting Karissa, “We have high hopes we’ll be able to reach a fair contract agreement that’s going to support our students’ futures. The main goal in all of this is to reach a fair contract agreement that protects the health and safety of our students and staff.”

Teachers are currently working under the terms of the 2017-2020 contract which expires at midnight December 31.. The board has offered a 15% increase over the next three years.

Woodell said in addition to a salary increase other issues include insurance, sick days/personal leave time, remote learning language and provisions regarding the COVID-19 pandemic. “At this time there has not been a tentative agreement reached on any bargaining issues,” said Woodell.

Other organizations also turned out in support of the teachers including John Weiss, president of the Barnesville Association of Classified Employees that represents non-teaching staff within the Barnesville schools. He explained the SOEA supported our union when it was in contract negotiations in the past, and the membership plans to do the same thing. “They showed up for us, and we are here to return the favor,” said John.

Quoting Woodell, “It is fantastic to see so many people coming from all over.”

The Switzerland of Ohio School board has offered the SOEA a five percent increase per year over the next three years, the teacher’s insurance plan would remain the same with the board paying 90% of the premiums and the individual paying the remaining 10%. “The board made its salary offer to the SOEA because it wants to ensure that quality teachers come to and stay with our district,” Board President Sarah Smith said in a news release Thursday. “We believe that this is about as generous of a salary offer as you will find in the state,” explained Smith.

Supporters said they were willing to stand beside the teachers and service personnel as they bring to the boards attention that they need to move forward with negotiations sooner verses later and to avert a potential strike.