Teachers in Reynoldsburg, Ohio, have issued notice they will strike beginning Friday, September 19, after they were unable to agree on terms of a new contract with the Reynoldsburg Board of Education. Teachers objected to provisions in the school board’s offer relating to merit pay, class size, and being forced to trade in their Cadillac health care plans for Obamacare. According to the Reynoldsburg Education Association:
This was a fight that was picked intentionally and with a purpose. The board’s first proposal, which they posted publicly on their website, was an appalling list of concessions and corporate reforms; the end of a traditional salary schedule to be replaced by merit pay without defined criteria for obtaining it, the end of traditional employer health insurance by shifting all employees to the Affordable Care Act, no language on class size, planning time to be spent in meetings rather than teacher self-directed planning time… [emphasis added]
The school board says it wants to give cash payments to teachers to buy their own health insurance on the “new state insurance market.” Ohio did not set up a state exchange which means teachers would need to purchase their insurance through the federal exchange under this plan.
The school board explained on their website, “The administration believes teachers individually will do a better job of acquiring coverage that suits their specific needs than the District does with its one-size-fits-all approach.” Under the current contract, teachers pay $75.00 per month for an individual plan ($155/family) with a $1400 out-of-pocket maximum per year ($2800/family).
The board went on to explain that this new scheme is more fair to single teachers, whose “personal lifestyle decisions” mean their health insurance premiums cost less than married teachers. Because all teachers would receive the same payment, single teachers would no longer have to subsidize families, according to the board’s reasoning.
Reynoldsburg Education Association spokesman Gina Daniels said the district’s proposal to eliminate group health insurance and pay teachers a cash stipend so they could buy their own health insurance through the exchanges is a sticking point in the negotiations.”We are concerned by the loss of group health insurance,” Daniels said. “REA wants Reynoldsburg to be able to attract and retain high-quality teachers and keep morale high. Eliminating group health insurance will not bring in or keep quality teachers in Reynoldsburg.”
Both sides are meeting with a federal mediator today in advance of the midnight strike deadline. Teachers have removed their belongings from classrooms and the school board has begun hiring replacement teachers in anticipation of the impending strike.