Putting Education Reform To The Test

Ohio Keeps Collective Bargaining Rights; Will Florida Do the Same?


Ohio voters have rejected a law that significantly weakened the collective bargaining power of more than 350-thousand public employees, including teachers. The bill was signed by Ohio Gov. John Kasich last spring.

Opponents immediately launched a campaign to overturn the law through a ballot referendum that became known as Issue 2. They were successful, with 61.3 percent of the votes in favor of tossing the law. The group behind the effort spent three times as much money as their opponents.

What are the chances of a similar law being passed in Florida? Earlier this year, Governor Rick Scott said he wanted to get rid of collective bargaining, but doing so would involve changing the state constitution with more than 60 percent voter approval. It doesn’t mean the idea is going away, though. Patricia Levesque with the Foundation for Florida’s Future, an education reform advocacy group, said last summer that “we’ll tackle collective bargaining next year.”

Florida did make some changes this year that were frowned upon by the unions and even challenged in court. State employees are now required to contribute three percent of their salary to a retirement account. New teachers no longer have access to tenure, and all teachers are now subject to a merit pay system.

As the Florida Education Association wages these court battles, it has been paying attention to Ohio. The FEA joined union groups across the U.S. that worked to defeat what it called an attack on workers’ rights.


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