Otsego Teachers on the Verge of a Strike

Lisa Baus says the fair is a great place to talk to people about teachers' salaries.
Lisa Baus says the fair is a great place to talk to people about teachers' salaries.
"It's time for us to step up," says jay Fitzsimmons, who supports teachers.
"It's time for us to step up," says jay Fitzsimmons, who supports teachers.

WOOD COUNTY -- There have been new developments regarding ongoing labor problems in the Otsego School System. Negotiations resumed Tuesday between the district and the Teachers Union, reports News 11's Dick Berry.

The new Otsego superintendent, Jim Garber, says both sides met for four hours, and he's optimistic about progress and hopes to meet again soon. Union negotiator Bruce Jeffers tells us the same thing and has scheduled a tentative meeting with rank and file for next week.

Meanwhile, at the fair this week, you can see demolition derbies, country music stars -- and Otsego teachers. You expect to see midway rides and tons of fair food at all county fairs. What you might not expect is this: a table set up by a teachers union on the verge of a strike.

"Because we see a lot of residents, we're hoping we can get a hold of them here. Talk to them. If they have any questions, we can answer them personally," explain Lisa Baus.

The Otsego Education Association is telling Wood County fair-goers that things for teachers need to change. They have been working without a contract for over a year, for one thing.

"They deserve a raise. They're the ones doing the work, teaching our kids who will be the future," says Leotta Ballard.

Other issues: a factfinder awarded teachers a six percent raise over a two-year period. The board turned it down. Another sticking point: Teachers are being asked to give up spousal health benefits.

"Someone paid for us to go to school. I think we need to pay for someone else to go to school. Time for us to step up and take care of business," says Jay Fitzsimmons.

So this is what it comes down to: The Teachers Union has staged informational pickets, but they're prepared to walk a real picket line before the start of the upcoming school year.

"The members will -- if nothing is settled -- the members will be meeting to issue a 10-day strike notice. Can't say it will pass. Majority of people are willing to issue a 10-day strike notice," says Baus.

Posted by KO