Cleveland Heights-University Heights City School District votes to strip healthcare benefits for striking teachers

The Board of Education for Cleveland Heights-University Heights City School District (CH-UH) has voted to strip healthcare benefits from striking teachers, counselors, nurses, and other school support professionals, the Cleveland Heights Teachers Union (CHTU) revealed in a release on Friday.

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Last week, the CHTU filed a notice to strike following months of negotiations between the union and school district on a new contract. The CHTU’s strike is set to begin on Wednesday, Dec. 2.

“This outrageous move by our Board of Education is a heavy-handed attempt to quash our collective action by taking away our health insurance during the peak of a global pandemic,” CHTU President Karen Rego said in a release. “We made the hard decision to plan for a strike to protect the quality health insurance that we have gained over the years by forgoing wage increases, and now the district is seeking to punish us by eliminating our healthcare altogether.”

In a statement, CH-UH City School District Superintendent Elizabeth Kirby and CH-UH City School District Board of Education President Jodi Sourini said that the district remains committed to resolving its issues with the Union. They also noted “when public school teachers choose to go on strike, they are knowingly walking away from wages and benefits.”

“That is the definition of a strike – employees choose to walk away from their compensation in order to influence terms and conditions of employment,” the statement reads. “Ceasing wages and benefits is required for public sector employees in Ohio under state law. We sincerely hope Union leadership informed its members of this and what choosing to strike means.”

The school district also noted that employees are eligible to continue their health benefits through COBRA during the strike, but will be responsible for paying for the coverage. The union, meanwhile, stated that its strike comes after “the district unilaterally imposed the terms of their final contract proposal, which will raise healthcare premiums to 250% of the current rate, while also reducing other compensation by 1%. For many CHTU members that adds up to a $3,000-$5,000 loss in total compensation.”

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Cleveland Clinic, UH bring Halloween fun to patients

Halloween is different this year, but dedicated volunteers from two local hospital systems went out of their way to make it special for kids.

CLEVELAND — On a cold and rainy day this week, at University Hospitals Rainbow Center for Women and Children, dozens of volunteers stood outside for hours, to bring children a special Halloween.

“When COVID hit and we knew we couldn’t do our normal party, we decided to bring it outdoors and do a drive-thru event,” said Jennifer Walker, manager of the UH Rainbow Injury Prevention Center.

A line of cars was wrapped around the block Monday evening, waiting to see these smiling faces at Trunk-or-Treat.

Hospital workers, police officers, and state troopers were on hand, giving out gifts and goodies at 10 different stations. 

Volunteers even handed out free booster seats for registered participants.

“It might be some of the only Halloweens these kids get to have if they’re not able to trick-or-treat or go to something that’s safe,” Walker said. “So, we’re just happy to provide that to them.”

A few miles away, at Cleveland Clinic Children’s, Stephanie Haines, and her 9-year-old Chance, are feeling grateful for the hospital’s reverse trick-or-treat.

Chance has been admitted since Saturday. He has epilepsy, and this year has been particularly hard.

“We’ve been dealing with the seizures since 2016. He had a lobectomy. He had part of his brain removed in 2017 to help, and the seizures have come back and they’re worse than they were before surgery,” Stephanie shared.

Stephanie, of Navarre, has four other children at home. The balance can be exhausting. So when dedicated volunteers appeared in costume to make her son’s day, she was touched beyond words.

“It brings tears to my eyes … the amount of happiness that the Clinic brings here. I don’t have time to take on the ‘extra,’ and that’s what they’re doing. I don’t have the words to express how grateful I am … everything that they’ve done,” she said.

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