Ohio teachers’ unions are fighting hard against Senate Bill 5, the collective bargaining law that would sharply limit unions’ power and teachers’ collective bargaining rights. A referendum on the law is Issue 2 on the Nov. 8 ballot.
If the law survives, it would bring major changes to how Ohio public schools operate. Here are five of the biggest changes affecting teachers:
- Class sizes
- Currently, in most districts, maximum class sizes are set in union contracts.
- Under SB 5, collective bargaining agreements that set maximum class sizes are prohibited. However, school boards could still adopt their own policies on class-size limits.
- Health care premiums
- Currently, public employees pay an average of 10.5 percent of their health care premiums, according to the State Employee Relations Board. The Ohio Education Association says that 96 percent of public school employees pay some part of their health care premiums. (Columbus Dispatch, Akron Beacon Journal)
- Under SB 5, teachers and other public employees must pay at least 15 percent of the cost of their health care benefits.
- Pension payments
- Currently, teachers are required to contribute 10 percent of their salaries to the teachers’ pension fund. Some school districts pay part of that contribution for their employees. School districts do that for about 8 percent of State Teachers Retirement System of Ohio members. (PolitiFact Ohio)
- Under SB 5, all teachers and other public employees must pay the full amount of their employee pension contributions.
- Currently teachers can earn tenure, also called a continuing contract, after several years of service and meeting other requirements. To fire a teacher with tenure, a school district must follow a set legal process, which districts say can be expensive.
- SB 5 abolishes tenure for teachers that don’t already have it.
- Currently, most teachers receive automatic pay raises as they accumulate additional years of experience and credentials. (In some districts, teachers have foregone those raises as a district cost-cutting measure.)
- Under SB 5, compensation would be based on the type of license a teacher has, the results of a formal evaluation process and other criteria set by the local school board. The evaluation process must take into account the academic growth of a teacher’s students.