Why No Rights At Work Is Wrong

Borrowed totally from OEA.


Our out-of-touch opponents are trying to deceive voters again like they did last year. This is worse than SB 5. It doesn’t have to be this way. The so-called, trick-titled “right to work" is WRONG because it is an unsafe and unfair attack on workers' rights, good jobs, families and the middle class. We call it No Rights at Work is Wrong and we don’t need it.


If you work hard and play the rules, you should be treated fairly You should be able to earn a fair wage for a hard day’s work RTW is unfair because it degrades the value of hard work and the worker


RTW strips workers of their collective bargaining rights Voters have spoken on this issue: they support collective bargaining rights Workers should be able to speak up for themselves, their coworkers and their community on the job


RTW means lower wages and fewer benefits for you, me, all of us We need good paying jobs for working and middle-class Ohioans Communities thrive and grow when Ohioans have good paying jobs


It makes it harder to collectively bargain for life-saving equipment, staffing and other safety issues for the brave men and women that protect us, like police officers and firefighters It takes away the professional voices of those we trust to take care of our children and families, such as teachers and nurses It is wrong because it means less money, lower wages and fewer benefits for you, me and all of us in the middle class. Communities thrive and grow when Ohioans have good paying jobs. Let's stand up together and stick together for a decent standard of living.

We Deserve It.

Invest in Public Education

Think Tank, Policy Matters Ohio, recently released a report titled "State of Working Ohio 2012. The Report has many interesting findings, but we wanted to parse out 2 of the major ones, especially as it related to education and working people.

Education pays, but Ohio isn’t passing that test. Over the past generation Ohioans have dramatically increased their education levels. This is a good thing, because compensation at lower education levels is shrinking. But other states are investing much more and reaping bigger rewards. And in the most recent state budget, we cut both K-12 and universities, keeping our students back.

Instead we should invest in education, from pre-K through college and beyond.

The graph below highlights this findings and recommendation

This becomes especially important, given the news we reported on just a few days ago, namely, the new school year bringing yet more cuts. This short-sighted policy by the Governor was highlighted by an editorial in the Plain Dealer

Ohio's economic prospects depend on a well-educated work force -- hard to achieve when budget cuts force schools to lay off teachers and shorten the school day.
Gov. John Kasich, whose administration is working on a long-delayed revamp of the state's school-funding formula, should make sure his approach offers extra money and other incentives to superintendents and school boards willing to create efficiencies through radical restructuring, as in Cleveland, or via mergers or the sharing of services or personnel with other districts.

Which brings us to the second finding and recommendation that the Policy Matters report includes

Unions give workers leverage and a voice. Aggressive employer anti-union practices and public policy that discourages organizing have taken their toll. As unions have eroded, so have worker wages and benefits and family well being. States with the lowest levels of unionization have the worst wages, states that combine union friendliness and education investments do best. Ohio voters spoke loud and clear last year in retaining collective bargaining rights for public sector workers.

Ohio should retain and expand policies that help workers organize and preserve a collective voice.

The differences are quite stark

Destroying collective bargaining was another misguided policy choice made by the Governor. Unlike his radical defunding of education however, voters were able to overturn and repeal his union busting efforts.

The evidence is in abundance - we need to strengthen the middle class by investing in public education, the results will lead to a strong more vibrant Ohio.

Done deal in Cleveland?

Deal reached.

The compromise struck by the mayor and union after several weeks of marathon negotiations, will bring major changes to the contract rules governing teacher assignments, seniority, pay, evaluation, layoff and recall that give the district more flexibility as it tries to improve schools.
Jackson, district officials and CTU representatives all said today that they negotiated an agreement on the plan because it will provide a better education for students.

As CTU President, David Quolke said, "This agreement is a testament to the idea that when collective bargaining trumps conflict, progress can be made that helps the children of Cleveland."

Frank Jackson got into this mess because he didn't show respect to the teachers in his school district, and didn't trust the collective bargaining agreement. He famously avoided involving educators in his reform plan because

Mayor Jackson said he did not talk to the union before coming up with his latest plan because he wanted to avoid further delay.

"We need to get something done," he said. "We've been in perpetual discussion about a lot of things. Our sense of urgency is such that something has to happen in a systemic way and it has to happen now."

How much delay was caused? A week? Maybe 2? If he had of respected the teachers and the process, imagine the good will that would have been garnered, instead of the acrimony.

If the defeat of SB5 wasn't a strong enough message, maybe politicians will look at this example and finally realize that collective bargaining and collaboration will get you far further, much faster than a my way, or the highway approach.

This should cause some pause for thought however

The plan has also gained wide support from business and political leaders in the city, with Cleveland City Council voting this week to endorse the plan and the cities' charitable foundations and the chamber of commerce, the Greater Cleveland Partnership, helping to write it and sitting in on negotiations with CTU.

Under what statute does the Greater Cleveland Partnership get to sit in on negotiations between public employees and their government employer? The GCP was front and center supporting the Governor's efforts via SB5 to dismantle worker protections, and they were instrumental in adding the union busting measures into the "Cleveland plan" too. Now a deal is done - let's see them step up to the plate and fund efforts to pass a much needed levy. That, after all, is still the biggest crisis facing Cleveland Municipal Schools.

Frank Jackson's plan circa 1970

It's backwards

Cleveland Metropolitan Schools CEO Eric Gordon has been given the job of trying to sell everyone on Mayor Frank Jackson's plan for revitalizing Northeast Ohio's largest school system.

Gordon tells WTAM 1100 that the administration and teachers union both need to work together on what the mayor proposes, saying, "We have to be careful to modernize the work rules in a way that's respectful to adults."

The work rules, via collective bargaining, are modern and respect adults. Collective bargaining was brought to the education profession in Ohio in 1983. Before that it was the wild west of management whims. Collective bargaining modernized that system. Why Frank Jackson thinks going back to the old failed ways of doing things is the solution to Cleveland Schools is a mystery.

Mutual trust and respect involves collaborating with educators before you release your plan to send labor relations back to the 1970's.

Unworkable "solutions"

This letter is in response to a Dispatch Op-Ed column published Wednesday, January 25th.

Dear Ms. Smith,

Your January 25 Dispatch column starts by lamenting “More and more money, a lot of tinkering, constant reforms and so little change,” and worrying because “The recession and state budget woes set off alarms, warning that many education needs can’t be met if we keep this up.” But then your suggestions are in large part old suggestions, unworkable, or expensive.

Year-round school, four-day school weeks, education via technology, state-leveraged purchases (buses, etc.), “best practices”/reports, and prefab buildings (“trailers”) have all been around for a while. And who will pay for the air conditioning needed for year-round school? How much expensive investment will techno-ed require if it is broadly applied in all schools? And many schools already temporarily use prefab classrooms to address population fluctuations.

You mention exempting prevailing wage. So, is it a new idea to pay for tax cuts by taking it out of working people’s income? You complain about “More and more money,” but apparently money taken from workers doesn’t count. Your suggestions don’t really seem to be against spending money. How will orphanages be paid for? Don’t you think that eliminating grade levels would require greater expenditures on personnel, software, and planning/ oversight? Do you agree with the governor that this could all be paid for by effectively eliminating collective bargaining for educational employees?

Statewide collective bargaining for salary or salary and fringes would be interesting. Do you actually think the well-to-do suburban schools would reduce their present levels to some overall average? Would the state raise all poor schools to the level of Upper Arlington, or even to a state-average level? We already have a ridiculously low minimum salary schedule.

Moreover, collective bargaining involves many more IMPORTANT aspects beyond salary, such as working conditions, fair and professional treatment, due process in discipline, sensible educational policy, and more. How would a state-level bargaining entity deal with such questions coming from over six hundred districts? Either the local boards would have to deal with this – eating up much of the “savings” – or you intend that such matters would no longer be considered. If the latter, then you would diminish the profession.

Without these options teachers have no way to demand respect, no real way to help mold policy, no way to counteract prejudice, nepotism, vendettas, foolish board policy, and other matters that harm teachers, students, and the educational process.

You end with: “Ohio can either greatly increase systemwide productivity or continue to rely on more local taxes, more district cuts and doing less with less.” Are those the only options? Why are you willing to frame the options as increase local taxes and make district cuts versus taking needed funds out of workers’ standard of living (I know: part of it – you think – would come from “productivity”)– but you don’t even mention calling for higher, progressive taxes to “stop the cuts in important areas such as preschool, the arts and foreign languages”? Is this any different from Tea Party types who MUST balance the budget by cutting the safety net but won’t touch taxing millionaires?

Finally, I am shocked by your asking a Republican governor and legislature, which supposedly hates “big government,” “Tzars,” and the federal Department of Education, to set up a “a board, which would have authority over early childhood, elementary, secondary and higher education, and could make the system function more cohesively.” What happened to “local control”? And even if local boards continue to exist in some form, isn’t this super board, as conservatives like to say, “just another level of worthless, expensive bureaucracy”?

All in all, I don’t think Einstein would be pleased with your column. It doesn’t seem that different from the same old easy (to say) fixes and politically oriented silver bullets. Much of it is entirely impossible to implement - for political and economic reasons; some cannot be universally or properly implemented; some is destructive of a valuable profession.

And your selection of types to serve on the “expert panel” is astounding: “certified public accountants, economists, futurists and technologists and perhaps be chaired by Ohio’s state auditor.” These are the “experts” – not one of them is connected to education in any way. None of them is qualified to understand education! Clearly, you are looking at money, not the education of kids. Would you make the same recommendation regarding a medical practice “expert panel” and keep everyone connected to medicine off the panel? Maybe, if you worked for a health insurance company.

Education doesn’t change because the power structure won’t deal with the real problems and people who have a public platform make proposals like yours that serve the power structure.

Yours - Tom Harker
Retired School Teacher.

Delivering lower costs, higher quality

Innovation Ohio recently published a study that showed that states, like Ohio, that had collective bargaining for educators produced lower costs and higher quality than states that had weaker collective bargaining laws.

In fact, research shows that eliminating or effectively crippling the state’s collective bargaining system will be as likely to add to state and local budget woes as cure the
According to the U.S. Department of Labor’s Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), Ohio’s kindergarten, elementary, middle school and high school teachers saw their salaries, on average, drop 3.8% between 2008 and 2009, the latest year BLS’s Occupational Employment Statistics are available. The national average was a 2% increase.
Even though states that limit teachers’ rights to collectively bargain make up less than one-third of all the states, they make up half of the top 10 salary increases in the contiguous 48 states, with reduced teachers’ rights states taking the top three spots (Wyoming at 11.2%, Texas at 7% and Louisiana at 5.9%).
In Education Week’s annual K-12 Student Achievement rankings, NO reduced teachers’ rights states scored in the top 10 states. In fact, the top 13 K-12 Achievement states were all states that require collective bargaining for its teachers. Meanwhile, Ohio scored better than 75% of the reduced teachers’ rights states on the K-12 Achievement measure.

While none of the top 10 achieving states were reduced teachers’ rights states, they did make up 7 of the bottom 10 K-12 Achievement states. That means that almost half of all reduced teachers’ rights states ranked in the bottom 10 states on their students’ achievement.

The results revealed by this report should come as no surprise to anyone who has been involved in, or observed, the collective bargaining process across Ohio's school districts. Teachers and education support professionals have consistently demonstrasted a commitment not only to delivering a quality education to their students, but to the communities they serve. Eliminating this important voice eliminates the ability to deliver these results.