Cleveland Heights teacher worried about cancer treatments with looming strike

Cleveland Heights teacher worried about cancer treatments with looming strike

CLEVELAND HEIGHTS, Ohio (WOIO) - Losing health benefits would be horrific, especially if you are fighting cancer.

That’s the threat hundreds of local school workers face as they prepare to strike on Wednesday, December 2.

Lee Anne Chambers is one of those people.

“I have six chemotherapy treatments, and I’m about to have the third one out of six on Tuesday, and then we go on strike Wednesday,” she said.

The 7th grade Cleveland Heights-University Heights science teacher was diagnosed with cancer back in July and received treatments throughout this coronavirus pandemic.

Last week the board of education voted to “stop” paying for health care benefits for hundreds of union members if they off the job. She tells 19 News it’s retaliation for striking.

“If God forbid this goes on long enough, and if I have to have another chemotherapy appointment, I am gonna have to pay that cobra, and that means I’m going to be borrowing money from family and friends,” she said.

In a statement to 19 News, the board of education says it cannot sustain the cost of the current plan; currently single persons pay $29.16 while families pay $77.09 with zero deductibles or co-pays.

The school district’s proposed plan calls for single persons to pay $55.26 and $149.20 for family coverage.

Chambers says over the years, teachers have sacrificed raises and higher salaries to keep their health benefits costs low. She hopes they can come to an agreement and soon.

But even with her health on the line, she’s concerned for the students who she says will suffer.

“What we feel for our students is an immeasurable amount of love and caring that extends beyond the classroom,” she said. “None of us want to hurt these kids, and teachers are always doing what’s best for their students.”

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