Now in its third week, a teachers strike in Strongsville, Ohio has parents, teachers and administrators at wit’s end, after several tense exchanges between the strikers and the substitute teachers filling in for them.
Earlier this month, Strongsville public teachers went on strike following failed contract negotiations between their union and the city. The city wants to cut the state’s contribution to teacher pensions; in exchange, the union wants a compensatory salary increase. The current average salary for a Strongsville teacher is $64,450, according to local reports.
Since then, the strike has occasionally turned ugly.
Video footage showed striking teachers gathered around the police station, harassing substitute teachers who were applying for interim positions at Strongsville schools. The teachers shouted “scab,” and “go home,” at several applicants, who were escorted into the building by police.
One protester shouted “Rosa Parks would be ashamed” at a black woman attempting to enter the building, prompting a police officer to inform the crowd that that woman was on police business, not applying for a job.
The spectacle has angered some parents, who say the teachers are setting a poor example for their kids.
“This strike is embarrassing the community, and it’s been going on too long,” said Paul Komarek, who recently organized a counter-protest to encourage teachers to end the strike, in a statement.
Even some of the students agree.
“Maybe they’ll get a little more mature about it and come back for their students’ sake,” said high school senior Lydia Kareha. “I hope they see this and understand that what they’re doing is ridiculous, to an extent.”
The union representing the teachers, the Strongsville Education Association, maintains that the city is deliberately prolonging the strike to save money, because substitute teachers are cheaper than regular teachers.
“The Board wants to prolong this strike to make money, while the students of the district continue to suffer,” said SEA President Tracy Linscott in a statement.
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