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Collective Bargaining Bill Could Strain Teacher Relationships With Districts

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The GOP sponsored bill to scale back collective bargaining for public workers could break the already strained relationships between teachers unions and school districts. Ideastream’s Michelle Kanu reports.

Wednesday, February 23, 2011 at 6:02 pm

If passed as is, Senate Bill 5 will wipe out salary schedules, guaranteed pay raises and seniority rights for teachers, as well as increase their healthcare costs.

David Quolke, President of the Cleveland Teachers Union, says losing the power to negotiate these issues will likely breed bad blood between unions and school districts. He’s especially concerned it will hold teachers back from working with districts on new initiatives to turn around low performing schools.

Quolke: “Quite frankly, that’s where I struggle, in terms of what their commitment will be and how SB 5 will relate to such federal programs as Race to the Top and the commitment around collaboration. That was also taken to a much greater level when the Ohio School Board’s Association came out last week and testified in favor of Senate bill 5.”

Quolke says the association’s testimony seems to go against the group’s prior promise to work with teachers unions.

But Damon Asbury, legislative services director of the Ohio School Boards Association says, while his organization likes that the bill gives school districts more control over their costs, they support some of the collective bargaining process.

Asbury: “What I’m hoping will come out of this whole discussion process is that because of Senate bill 5, leadership of the unions and the boards at the state level and at the local level will say look, its time to sit down and look at how our collective bargaining process is working. Where does it need to be tweaked?”

Asbury says the relationships between school boards and teachers unions vary from city to city and his group—and unions—want to preserve those working relationships wherever possible.

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