The so-called “union busting” efforts by state officials is a blessing in disguise. The fiscal conundrum faced by governors and state representatives has forced all of them to deal with public unions one way of another. In states like Wyoming, the Democrat governor convinced the union to cut pay and benefits in order to maintain a growing economy. In Indiana, the Republican governor eliminated collective bargaining that enabled government to become more efficient, provide services more effectively, and increase merit-based pay to public employees. This means both methods of controlling public finances work.
In Ohio, Republican lawmakers are seeking to implement similar fiscal policies as Indiana.
Union employees, Ted Strickland and other democrats claim an end to collective bargaining will harm the middle-class. Mary McCleary of The Buckeye Institute refutes their claim. In a recent article, she wrote:
“Contrary to the rhetoric these folks are spouting, eliminating collective bargaining for public sector employees actually does the opposite. It helps the middle class and protects our vulnerable populations. As it currently stands when there is not enough money to pay for all government employees in the system, workers get laid off. They lose their jobs. If a collective bargaining agreement weren’t in place, jobs could be saved. Everyone could take a small pay cut, and everyone would keep their jobs. Furthermore, when government workers are laid off, services are necessarily cut. Think about our schools where teachers are let go and programs are cut. The students suffer and all because the unions won’t make concessions. Contrary to what has been said, collective bargaining for government employees actually hurts the middle class.”
Last week, a manufacturer’s sales rep shared his experience with unions. He was an autoworker who made it to the highest position in the AEU. He sat at the bargaining tables with corporate executives. He made the big bucks and yet he quit. Why? Because all it was about was getting the biggest pay for himself and the union bosses. Union workers were never a part of real deal.
How does any of this apply to Xenia Schools?
School officials claim they have a budget deficit of $5 million. In order to make ends meet, they have to close two schools and lay-off around 70 teachers. What if all union employees including administrators, teachers, and support staff accepted a temporary pay and benefit cut for say three years? After all, wages, salaries and benefits make up the largest part of the budget. Because the school budget is about $60 million, a 10% cut would reduce costs by about $5 million. That would save 70 teaching positions.
Of course, it might mess up the plan to close two schools in order to get the “Tobacco Money” for building new schools, which plan is wrong for Xenia. The plan eventually to close Spring Hill is no more necessary because of a high water table any more than at Tecumseh. Besides, rebuilding Spring Hill without a basement would solve the previous flooding problem. A number of other schools do not have basements either.
Actually, Xenia needs at least one more neighborhood elementary school, not two less. Xenia lawyers could challenge the Ohio School Facilities Commission future projections of school building enrollements and its minimum enrollement requirement in court.
As in previous posts, education research proves small neighborhood schools provide better interactive learning environments than larger ones. Because small schools facilitate greater personal interaction, teachers and students enjoy learning more and consequently are more productive. (See my series titled Xenia Community Schools Rebuilding Plan I, II, III)
This blogger has a graduate level education in secondary education.