November 30, 2020
Statement from Board of Education President Jodi Sourini
Cleveland Heights-University Heights School District
I am disappointed to have to write this, but I am compelled to because the Cleveland Heights Teachers Union is circulating false narratives. First and foremost, the Union chose to exercise its right to strike in the middle of a pandemic. It, not the Board, made that decision. 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.
The District and our taxpayers – many of whom do not enjoy benefits at this level – cannot sustain the cost of the current healthcare provided to CH-UH employees, even with the presumed passage of the November levy. Union members currently pay:
- $29.16 per paycheck for single healthcare coverage, and
- $77.09 per paycheck for family healthcare coverage.
This minimal employee contribution of effectively 6% of the premium is for a “Rolls Royce” plan, with a $0 deductible and $0 in coinsurance. That means, if an employee goes to the doctor under this plan, there is . Basically, an employee pays nothing when they go to the doctor, have a baby, have surgery, or nearly any other medical procedure. This plan is virtually unheard of anywhere else but Cleveland Heights-University Heights, and it is not sustainable. Upon ratification of the contract, nearly all other District employees will take the same plan. What Union members are in the District’s Last Best Offer is reasonable: $67.84 per pay for single coverage and $183.68 per pay for family coverage. *Note: This article originally stated that the per-pay cost for single coverage was $55.26 and $149.20 for family coverage. That was incorrect, because it did not factor in the prescription medication cost.
It’s time Union leadership acknowledges that the days of 6% premiums and $0 deductibles are over. They must stop exploiting the pandemic and the real suffering of those who have lost their jobs, been furloughed or have fallen ill and instead admit that the modest increase in healthcare they are being asked to take is reasonable and best for the District, the teachers, students, families and the community.
We welcome a spirited debate on substantive contract language reflecting current market conditions. We remain ready to return to the negotiations table.