SPRINGBORO — The union that represents teachers in Springboro has filed an unfair labor practice charge against the board of education with the State Employment Relations Board (SERB).
“On or about Jan. 10, 2013, (the board) violated (labor laws) by conducting negotiations … when it issued a press release setting forth its negotiation proposals and goals and then distributing the press release to district staff through the district’s email system,” the claim states.
“This blatant and outrageous disregard of the obligations of the Springboro Community City Schools Board of Education to conduct bargaining in accordance with (the Ohio Revised Code) requires an expedited investigation and .. the Springboro Education Association is requesting that SERB petition the court of common pleas for appropriate injuctive relief pending the final judication of the unfair labor practice charge filed,” attorney John Doll, who is representing the union, stated in a letter to SERB.
In the Jan. 10 announcement, the board presented its general objectives for upcoming negotiations as follows:
• A labor contract that is financially sustainable without additional taxes.
• An employee performance compensation structure.
• Quality medical care at a sustainable cost.
• Provide more time for teacher professional development without decreasing student contact time. Reduce the Board’s long-term obligations for pay out of accrued leaves.
• Revision of the supplemental contract terms.
“Springboro’s board members believe they have a responsibility to bring as much transparency to the process as possible,” according to a statement issued by the district. “The simple disclosure of objectives to the community was meant to assure all parties — parents, staff and the taxpayers — that the board is acting to open and conduct negotiations in a responsible manner. The Board does not believe this has harmed the negotiation process in any way.
“The board will defend the district against these charges in full cooperation with any SERB investigation. Moreover, the board will continue to request early negotiations to work toward a labor agreement that is financially sustainable for the District; and to provide a compensation structure that is fair and accountable.
“Successful negotiations with the SEA and Springboro’s classified employees and passing a $9.2 million renewal levy are two factors in 2013 that are most critical to the financial stability of Springboro Schools. Failing on either count will have a significant impact on future of the district.”
The district’s attorney, William M. Deters II, asked SERB to “immediately dismiss” the charges.
The news release in question “does not address or support any specific proposal or discuss any specific bargaining terms,” Deters said. “The union can cite to no evidence that supports the fact that the board’s listing of its ‘objectives’ in negotiations can reasonably be defined as ‘negotiations’ or ‘bargaining.’ Furthermore, the union will not be able to present substantial evidence of material harm to the union in the performance of union activities and/or negotiations.”
The release “cannot be defined as engaging in ‘direct dealing’ or refusing to negotiate with the union,” Deters said. It “states that it has asked the union to open negotiations early because the financial issues related to negotiations will impact the upcoming levy renewal. Further (it) sets forth reasonable objectives of the board in the upcoming negotiations … The board has a duty to inform its community about the district’s fiscal situation. The board’s only intention in providing the press release was transparency with the community as it related to fiscal concerns. There was no intention to interfere with, restrain or coerce employees in the exercise of their collective bargaining rights.”