Ohio Education Association Document Unmasks Union Front Groups

Ohio Education Association

“Citizen-driven, community-based, bipartisan coalition” We Are Ohio is led by the executive director of the Ohio Education Association (OEA), a document from the state’s largest labor union confirms. Over 95 percent of We Are Ohio’s funding has come from unions, OEA chief among them.

In an executive director job posting obtained by Media Trackers, OEA admits We Are Ohio is directly controlled by the teachers union, and also that Innovation Ohio and Support Ohio Schools are paid to serve the union’s purposes.

“[Larry] Wicks served the OEA effectively at a time of great external and internal pressure. He led the We Are Ohio coalition, which successfully repealed Senate Bill 5,” the OEA document reads.

Wicks was the OEA executive director during a 2010 staff strike when the union’s employees picketed OEA headquarters and placed a banner across the street encouraging Wicks to kill himself. He was paid $207,665 in 2011 and $222,167 in 2012, based on OEA’s annual reports to the U.S. Department of Labor.

After searching for past admissions We Are Ohio is run by OEA, Media Trackers located a November 8, 2011 National Education Association (NEA) blog post identifying Larry Wicks as “the coalition’s Chair.”

“The We Are Ohio campaign was housed in the OEA building,” the story noted, adding that “over 5,000 calls were made into Ohio by NEA members from around the country,” and “NEA members and staff from 20 states traveled to Ohio for the [get-out-the-vote] phase of the campaign.”

These are facts Ohioans should bear in mind, as the press aids union bosses by pretending We Are Ohio is not a shell organization built to defend the interests of its wealthy, progressive donors.

Judging by the executive director job posting, OEA plans to continue driving the “citizen-driven, community-based, bipartisan coalition.”

“In particular, with ‘Right to Work’ legislation on the horizon, the successful candidate will be expected to play a vital role in this debate, which currently includes a leadership role in a bipartisan coalition of public and private sector labor organizations,” the union explains.

Never does We Are Ohio acknowledge it is a “coalition of public and private sector labor organizations,” though previous slips by other We Are Ohio donors have made the truth clear.

“OEA has also served as a central and critical supporter in strengthening the diversity of voices supporting public education by investing in progressive ideas and organizations,” the union job posting continues. “The next Executive Director will be expected to maintain or enhance these initiatives.”

“For example, OEA has been a key force in the support of Innovation Ohio, a progressive think tank that acts as a policy and research hub for the progressive movement in Ohio. They were also fundamental in supporting Support Ohio Schools, a not-for-profit that advocates for public education and funding.”

Created by staffers of Ted Strickland after his failed 2010 gubernatorial reelection bid, Innovation Ohio has received $415,000 from labor unions – including $55,000 from OEA – in just two years.