Published: Friday, March 18, 2011 12:46 PM EDT
Unions members should reconsider what's 'fair'

To the Editor:

Based on recent events at statehouses in Ohio (Senate Bill 5) and Wisconsin, it appears that citizens across this country are waking to a fiscal reality: Our public sector unions are dangerously close to killing the golden goose ... the taxpayer that pays their wages.

On a more local level, at a Worthington schools community information session, residents were recently told they will have to "share" in rising district costs and the eventual loss of state revenue.

However, given the regular levy hikes, the ongoing cuts to student programs and a recent New York Times article showing Worthington residents losing their jobs (and putting 22 percent of our kids on the federal lunch program), it is clear that the community and our students have already shared in the pain. Has the local union shared equally in the sacrifice?

The average salary for our 730 respected teachers has risen over $5,000 in the last two years to $75,400 (a level now attained in just 13 years). This doesn't include the cost of generous health care and pension benefits, or the dollar value of 14 weeks of vacation time.

To be fair, teachers union members have accepted some limited changes to their contract in recent years. For example, union members are now paying 14 percent of health care premiums, despite that most workers pay 25 percent or more.

The bottom line is that passing the rising salary and benefit costs on to residents in the form of larger and more frequent levies is simply unfair. At the same time, laying-off newer teachers to keep the unions from accepting necessary concessions, or cutting ever more programs/services for our 9,500 students are equally unfair.

So the important question is this: Will the unions in Worthington and across Ohio agree to be a part of the solution to the state budget challenge and the school spending crisis? Time will tell. We hope they will take a good, long look at financial reality. This means looking at their members, at their communities and at the students, and then doing the right thing.

John Herrington

co-founder, EducateWorthington.org