Ohio Education Association Imposes Dues Hike to Defeat Collective Bargaining Reform

Posted: May 17, 2011 8:00 AM

This post was authored by Kyle Olson.

In many states, teachers and other public sector employeeshave no choice but to pay a union in order to have their job.  While they don’t have to be a member per se, they still have to pay a fee forthe union to bargain on their behalf.


They’re captives of a system that is stacked in favor ofspecial interest groups, like the Ohio Education Association.


OEA officials will do everything in their power to regainthe collective bargaining privileges they exploited for decades at the expenseof taxpayers and the state.  Part of their strategy is to unilaterallyassess active members $54 (support staff $25) to generate $5 million for areferendum campaign, regardless of individual teachers’ political beliefs ortheir position on collective bargaining.

OEA officials toldthe Dispatch that the decision was made by “an overwhelming majority” of anestimated 1,000 delegates who attended the union’s Spring RepresentativeAssembly, but they refused to disclose the vote. So the public will just haveto take their word for it.

It’s the same dirty pool in Michigan, where Michigan Education Associationexecutives recently conducted a statewide membership vote to gauge support for“job actions,” including a possible strike, to protest pending educationreforms.  But MEA officials refuse to release thevote totals to the public or their members. If they go out on strike, who cansay if the teachers really voted in favor of the action?

In both cases union bosses give the appearance of democracy by polling members.But without reliable vote totals as proof, the public is left to wonder if theunion is really motivated by the will of rank-and-file members, or thedecisions of a small group of left-wing bosses who are immune from everydayfinancial realities.

A growing number of Ohio residents are realizing that the state, and localschool districts in particular, can no longer afford many of the expensiveperks contained in union collective bargaining agreements. More and morecitizens understand that it doesn’t make sense to lay off young and eagereducators, or cancel student programs, to preserve bonuses for retiringteachers or full salaries for local union presidents who never teach.

Ohio’s collective bargaining reforms will allow school officials to prioritizespending with a focus on students rather than employees. The new laws putOhio taxpayers back in control of public schools by limiting the union’s toxicinfluence at the collective bargaining table. We have to believe there are someOhio educators who support these common-sense changes. But we’ll never know howmany, because the OEA won’t tell us.

If OEA officials are convinced that an overwhelming majority of teacherssupport their efforts to repeal collective bargaining reforms, then why don’tthey allow educators to voluntarily donate to the cause? Instead, the union isextracting the funds involuntarily from many teachers who wish not toparticipate.