Ohio teachers union shows solidarity with $100,000 average pay


By Jason Hart | Ohio Watchdog

Becky Higgins and other Ohio Education Association leaders express “solidarity” with striking Reynoldsburg City Schools teachers although average pay for OEA officers and employees tops $100,000.

SOLIDARITY: Ohio Education Association staff show support for the teachers their salaries are taken from

Higgins, who became president of OEA at the end of 2013, picketed with Reynoldsburg Education Association members last month. A group of OEA staffers also sent REA a photo of themselves making the ubiquitous union solidarity fist.

OEA paid Higgins’ predecessor, Patricia Frost-Brooks, $218,751 during the union’s 2013 fiscal year, which ended Aug. 31, 2013. Frost-Brooks was paid $267,916 the year before that.

Larry Wicks, who also left OEA at the end of 2013, was paid $226,669 in his last full year as the union’s executive director, based on OEA’s annual report to the U.S. Department of Labor.

Teachers in dozens of Ohio public school districts must pay fees to OEA as a condition of employment. The teachers union used educators’ dues and fees to pay 224 union employees and officers an average of $100,435 last year, excluding board of directors members.

A total of 34 OEA officers and employees were paid over $150,000 in 2013. OEA did not respond to an Ohio Watchdog inquiry about staff compensation.

Average pay trends for OEA, for teachers, and for all occupations are shown in the following chart.


Between 2008 and 2013, average pay for officers and employees of the teachers union increased from $93,206 to $100,435. Average teacher pay increased from $53,410 to $56,307, while average pay for all Ohioans increased from $39,820 to $43,170.

During that period, the average pay gap between OEA workers and Ohio’s teachers increased by $4,332 while the gap between OEA workers and the average Ohioan increased by $3,879.

According to the Ohio Department of Education, the average teacher salary for the 2012-2013 school year was $44,128 less than the average pay of the union officers and employees whose income is taken from Ohio teachers’ paychecks.

With the DOL Bureau of Labor Statistics estimating a statewide annual mean wage $57,265 lower than the average OEA worker’s pay in 2013, working for the teachers union paid more than the average Ohio teacher’s salary and the average Ohioan’s salary combined.

Recently released ODE data show the average Reynoldsburg City Schools teacher was paid $58,924 during the 2013-2014 school year, a slight decrease from the year before.

Statewide, ODE reported an average teacher salary of $55,916 for the 2013-2014 school year. OEA’s fiscal year 2014 report should be available to the public later this fall.