The Strongsville Education Association (SEA) is employing strategies pioneered by progressive activist Saul Alinsky in his famous book Rules for Radicals, Strongsville City School District Superintendent John Krupinski told Media Trackers. At publication, SEA – a local of the Ohio Education Association (OEA) – remains on strike, as the teachers union has been since March 4.
Superintendent Krupinski asserted that the negotiation tactics used by SEA have been very similar to those employed by the OEA affiliate in nearby Brecksville in 2012.
“It’s like a playbook. It’s based on a book a play-by-play replay of this book about how to strategize, and be successful in obtaining what you want. Rules for Radicals,” Krupinski said. “If you’ve read that book, that’s exactly the game plan that they’re pulling off. That’s the OEA playbook: Rules for Radicals.”
Rules for Radicals: A Pragmatic Primer for Realistic Radicals, written by Alinsky in 1971, details a ruthless approach to “community organizing” that has been utilized by far-left groups nationwide. As Media Trackers has previously noted, OEA is a powerful progressive organization funded by mandatory dues taken from Ohio teachers.
On Sunday, March 3, SEA members lined the sidewalk outside Strongsville Police Headquarters to scream at applicants for temporary teaching positions. SEA later published photos of presumed applicants to a “SCAB Sightings” gallery on the union’s Facebook page, in an apparent attempt to ridicule and threaten replacement teachers.
Despite the sharp escalation of hostility from SEA in the past several weeks, Superintendent Krupinski emphasized the district’s willingness to resume negotiations, noting the need for a “team effort” to solve the “complex” problems the district faces.
“Right now, our team is missing a key player. They’re called ‘teachers.’ They’re walking picket lines outside my office and shouting at me,” Krupinski said. “Economic reality is what it is, and we need them to be realistic in their proposal.”
“All I have to say is ‘we need to behave as adults’,” Krupinski added.
Data compiled from the Ohio Department of Education and Ohio Department of Taxation show that the average Strongsville City Schools teacher’s salary increased by 9 percent from 2005 to 2010, while the median district taxpayers salary increased by just 1.3 percent.
Despite concessions SEA made in a 2011 contract extension, Strongsville City Schools taxpayers still cover 90 percent of teachers’ health insurance premiums and 100 percent of teachers’ pension contributions.
A March 2 contract proposal from the school district called for the current 9.3 percent “pension pickup” to be replaced with a 10.3 percent salary increase. SEA demanded in a counter-proposal that taxpayers continue to pay both the employer and employee portions of teachers’ retirement contributions.
SEA also seeks the reversal of salary freezes and other previously agreed-to concessions. Superintendent Krupinski told Media Trackers this would add to the district’s already dire financial straits.
Other provisions of the union proposal include a shorter school year, the right to use taxpayer-funded resources to conduct union business, and more paid time off for union activities.
Strongsville City Schools budget projections filed with the Ohio Department of Education show that compensation packages account for 87.2 percent of all district spending, which Krupinski called “unsustainable” in his interview with Media Trackers. According to the district’s budget projections, Strongsville City Schools will begin to run multimillion-dollar deficits this spring.
Meanwhile, in a March 6 interview with WTAM-1100 host Bill Wills, SEA president Tracy Linscott accused the district of lying to the Department of Education about its financial projections and claimed the district had nearly $2 million in “hidden money.”