By Steve Gunn
BRECKSVILLE, Ohio – The effort to end a long tradition of secrecy and open school union contract negotiations to the public is gaining steam across the nation, despite the objections of labor leaders.
The latest example comes from the Brecksville-Broadway Heights school district in Ohio, where contentious negotiations are currently underway. The situation took an unexpected turn recently when the school board decided to publish proposals from both sides while negotiations are taking place, the Brecksville Patch reports.
School board President David Tryon said the board made the move for three very solid reasons: The board believes the proposals are public record, it has received legal requests for the documents from several citizens, and it has made a general decision to try to operate in a more transparent way.
Good for the school board. The provisions of teachers union contracts are very expensive and are funded with taxpayer dollars. Taxpayers deserve to watch the negotiations and see for themselves where their money is going, or at least know what each side is proposing.
But of course the teachers union is not happy about the publicity.
Michele Prater, media relations consultant for the Ohio Education Association, told BrecksvillePatch.com she had never heard of such transparency during contract negotiations anywhere in the state. She said the decision to publish the proposals makes her wonder if the school board is committed to bargaining in good faith.
We believe teachers unions have been getting their way for years during contract negotiations because the process typically occurs behind closed doors. The unions thrive on secrecy. But secrecy should have no role when public money is being spent.
Perhaps now the unions will have to be honest with citizens about what they are seeking and how their demands will impact school budgets. That’s what we call bargaining in good faith.