Lorain Charter School Educators Avert Lockout, Ratify Strong Contract

Share This

May 5, 2022
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Contact: Neil Bhaerman, 412-266-4899, nbhaerman@oft-aft.org

Lorain Charter School Educators Avert Lockout, Ratify Strong Contract

LORAIN, OH — Educators at Summit Academy Secondary Lorain ratified their first union contract earlier this week. The collective bargaining agreement contains the strongest wage improvements and contract language among all three Summit Academy schools that have successfully bargained union contracts. The ratification followed a tumultuous few days in which management threatened to lock out educators and immediately strip them of their health insurance. 

“We care deeply about the work that we do and the students that we educate. That’s why we organized our union earlier this year to improve student learning conditions and to make sure we have the ability to recruit and retain highly qualified and skilled educators,” said Kerrie Kruichuk, a science teacher at the school. 

In addition to guaranteed annual raises of 2.25% and other economic improvements, the contract also included language to ensure that teachers have adequate time to revise lesson plans if policies and requirements for lessons are changed and language that will improve school safety for students, teachers, and staff.

On Friday, April 29, after eight bargaining sessions, Summit Academy Management (SAM), which oversees all of Summit’s schools in Ohio, sent the union a Notice of Intent to Lockout Employees. The notice said the lockout would start on Monday, May 2, and that locked out employees would be immediately removed from their health insurance. The union immediately filed an Unfair Labor Practice charge alleging that SAM bargained in bad faith by announcing a lockout before an impasse was reached. Additionally at the time the lockout notice was sent, there was a mutually agreed upon bargaining session scheduled for Tuesday, May 3. An emergency bargaining session was held on Saturday, April 30 and resulted in an agreement that is more favorable to employees than management’s previous best offer.

“When we started bargaining our contract, we proposed to join the already existing contract that Summit Academy Management reached with teachers and staff at their Parma and Painesville schools,” said Aaron Kodman, a social studies teacher at the school. “This would have saved time and money for our employer and would have allowed us to move forward with mutual respect and cooperation. Unfortunately, management was more interested in dividing us from other Summit Academy educators than in reaching a fair contract. We’re proud that we stuck together for a fair contract despite their threat to lock us out.”

“The educators at Summit Academy Secondary Lorain have moved forward by repeatedly practicing solidarity at every level,” said Melissa Cropper, President of the Ohio Federation of Teachers. “They formed their union to improve learning conditions in solidarity with students and parents; they fought to be included in the pre-existing union contract in solidarity with Summit educators in Parma and Painesville; and when that wasn’t possible, they stood together in solidarity with each other to win a contract with even stronger standards than the pre-existing contracts.”
These educators are now the eighth northeast Ohio charter school to win a union contract as part of the Cleveland Alliance of Charter Teachers and Staff (Cleveland ACTS), a local union that is affiliated with the Ohio Federation of Teachers (OFT) and the American Federation of Teachers (AFT). Teachers at a ninth school, Menlo Park Academy in Cleveland, won their union in March and are currently preparing to start contract negotiations.

“Charter schools work best when teachers and staff have protections at work which allow us to advocate for our students and, when necessary, hold our administration accountable,” said Addie Drach, a Spanish teacher at Summit Academy in Parma. “That’s only possible by winning a union and a fair contract. When more teachers and staff in Summit schools, and other charter schools, organize their unions, we’ll be able to have a louder voice at the bargaining table and in our schools.”

​###

The Ohio Federation of Teachers (OFT) is composed of 54 local unions representing 20,000 members who are active and retired public school teachers, charter school teachers, school support staff, higher education faculty and staff, and public employees. Cleveland Alliance for Charter Teachers and Staff (Cleveland ACTS), Local 6570, represents educators and staff at nine Cleveland area charter schools. OFT and Cleveland ACTS are affiliated with the American Federation of Teachers.

Charter school teachers and staff in Ohio who want to organize a union can contact us through this confidential form.