Teachers protest at contract talks outside of Hamilton City Schools’ central office

Negotiations for a new teachers’ contract continued Wednesday, but this time with more than 120 protesting teachers outside Hamilton City Schools’ central office on Dayton Street.

The on-going labor pact talks for an employment contract set to expire in August is so far only seeing one side — the teachers’ union — commenting publicly as Hamilton Schools’ leader remained quiet on the status of the talks.

Wednesday morning and afternoon saw rotating shifts of teachers protesting on the sidewalks near the city schools’ headquarters at 533 Dayton Street.

Topping their list of concerns, said union officials, are a lack of planning time during the school day, pay and proposed contract stipulations they say will force teachers — including special education instructors — to fill in as substitute teachers when needed.

ExplorePHOTOS: Hamilton teachers protest during labor contract talks

Since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic in March of 2020, the subsequent school years have been marked by historic substitute teacher shortages causing major class schedule disruptions – sometimes resulting in school closures.

Organized by the Hamilton teachers’ union, which represents more than 700 classroom instructors in the public city schools, the rally was a show of solidarity for employment contract issues, said union officials.

Late Wednesday afternoon the two sides issued a joint statement: “Bargaining teams for both the (union) and the Board of Education met on June 22nd for the majority of the work day to discuss the terms of a successor labor contract.”

“Progress was made towards reaching an agreement; however, additional time will be needed. The parties plan to meet again prior to the start of the school year in a good faith attempt to reach an agreement,” wrote officials representing the teachers and the school board.

The 9,000-student city school system is one of the largest in Butler County.

Credit: Nick Graham

Credit: Nick Graham

Hamilton Police officers on the scene told the Journal-News there was no unlawful behavior or criminal incidents from the teachers outside Hamilton Schools’ central office.

The current, two-year contract with teachers ends in August, said union officials.

“We need planning time during the school day,” said Kathy Christen, a teacher and spokesperson for the union.

“The current school board proposal does not allow us to have the time we used to have,” said Christen, adding the academic lag many students suffered during the COVID-19 disrupted school years requires teachers to spend more time on lesson and other planning.

Social media postings from union officials prior to the rally also referred to proposed contract changes that would require teachers — including those working with special needs students — to fill in on occasion as substitute teachers in other classes.

Union leaders said they were please with the rally turnout.

“We’re looking for a fair and equitable contract and that’s really everyone is here,” said Christen.

The next Hamilton Board of Education meeting is scheduled for June 30.

Credit: Nick Graham

Credit: Nick Graham

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