Wednesday, November 9, 2011

SB5 Repeal: Ohio Injustice Averted

How you spell relief?  I spell it SB5.  Finally the tide has turned in the corporate anti-labor assault on public sector unions.
If there were teacher unions in any state that didn't deserve SB5 it was those of Ohio.  Ohio is the home of the Toledo Plan, the ground breaking Peer Assistance and Review System (PARS) which has been a national model of teacher taking control of professionalism for decades.  According to new research, deployment of a PARS system leads to more collaborative labor management relations.
Another example: The Dayton local was recently highlighted in NEA Today for using the grievance procedure to acquire textbooks for special needs students.
But I discovered the most significant example of the progressive work of Ohio's teacher unions in Denver, at the US Department of Education's Labor Management Conference.  At a reception, I spent considerable time talking with several representatives of the Federal Mediation and Conciliation Service, a federal agency charged with improving relations between labor and management.  At one point I was talking with an FMCS mediator from Ohio, who turned to a colleague and asked, "What percentage of teacher negotiations we do in Ohio do you think are interest based?"  The colleague thought about it for a moment, and replied, "Eighty percent."
Eighty percent.  As a VT-NEA local leader, I've been working to encourage the use of interest based bargaining (IBB) in two Vermont supervisory unions, a state where the labor-management relations often have an adversarial character because they rely on distributive tools.  We are just taking our first baby steps to achieve what has been achieved in Ohio.  And Ohio, where FMCS deploys this tool 80% of the time, which has been using contemporary conflict management tools for decades, where unions join with their communities to create great student results, experiences SB5.  I was shocked, saddened and angered.
Ohio's unions did not deserve this assault.  They were punished for doing some of the most progressive, collaborative and innovative work in the country.  I am incredibly relieved that the citizens of Ohio recognized the treasure they have in these great civic institutions, public sector unions, by not just repealing SB5, but repudiating their governor by an almost two to one margin.

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