November 29, 2020
The District has received several questions tonight following a story on Cleveland 19 News regarding the Cleveland Heights Teachers Union’s healthcare coverage during a strike. Teachers who are currently on approved leave due to personal or family illness will NOT lose their healthcare benefits due to a strike. They are not considered a striking employee unless they notify the District that they are going on strike; again, only employees who choose to strike are subject to loss of compensation.
Ohio R.C. 4117.15(C) prohibits the Board from providing “pay or compensation” -- including health care benefits -- to employees while they are on strike. It is not something the Board elected to do with malicious intent amid a pandemic. Rather, the Union, if it strikes, will do so knowing that the law requires the District to cease pay and benefits to those who choose not to work. All Ohio public school districts must follow this law. Hopefully, the Union will choose not to strike, and no member will have to lose his or her health insurance during a global pandemic.
Just as the Union has the legal right to call for a strike, the District has the legal right to make work available to any bargaining unit member who wants to work during the strike. Teachers who choose to continue to work will continue to receive their pay and benefits. Striking employees can also elect to continue their healthcare coverage through COBRA.
This was an incredibly difficult resolution for the Board to pass, particularly during a global health emergency. But the Board recognizes its legal obligation to do so. The Board has been in discussion with the Union for nearly 20 hours over the past week and remains committed to engaging in continued discussions.