Don't Drink the Tea. Think With the WE.
Sep
2011
20

Ohio’s SB5, How Do I Loathe Thee? Let Me Count the Days…



Yesterday marked the 50-day countdown to Ohio’s November 8th election that will have the union-busting SB 5 bill on the ballot. SB 5 requires workers to pay their entire pension contribution and at least 15 percent of their health care premiums while switching to a merit-based pay system that more closely resembles the private sector and strips workers of protections.

Those who oppose the bill charge that it will, “so dramatically curtail worker rights that collective bargaining will become ‘collective begging,’ public workers will likely see pay cuts, workplace safety will be compromised and Ohio could return to the days of labor unrest when illegal strikes were commonplace.”

There will be multimillion dollar media campaigns from both sides; Ohioans will be bombarded with message design. Against it or for it, it is hard to argue that SB5 would not change the course of Ohio if upheld. According to the Dayton Daily News:

“If enacted by voters, it will impact more than 180,000 schoolteachers and another 123,000 school district workers, 30,000 cops and firefighters, 57,000 state workers and more than 300,000 general government employees. The combined state and local government payroll totals $29.7 billion a year. The new law has the potential to impact 11 million Ohioans who pay taxes to operate 3,700 different government jurisdictions across the state.

Senate Bill 5 limits collective bargaining to wages, hours and terms of employment as well as personal safety equipment.

If passed, it would also:

• Ban strikes;

• Allow management to impose its last offer as a three-year contract if both sides reach impasse;

• Require workers to pay all of their pension contribution and at least 15 percent of their health care premiums;

• Switch to a merit pay system for most government employees;

• Limit leave time for vacation and illness and caps how much time may be banked by workers;

• Restore management rights over issues such as shifts, work assignments, transfers, promotions and layoffs; and eliminates seniority as the sole factor in deciding who gets laid off.”

What this leads to is an Ohio without the worker protections set up by long-standing union culture in the state. Who would stop a Principal from deciding specific teachers deserved pay raises over others with no merit? What if he was only recommending raises to science teachers who taught against evolution? This is the kind of situation that a teacher might find him/herself in in a post-SB5 Ohio.

Ohio Governor John Kasich has sent his top fundraisers and other staff to support Building a Better Ohio, the organization established in support of SB 5, as the November 8th election is viewed as a seminal moment not just for constituents but for the maligned leader as well. Passing a law (and then surviving a referendum) that busts public employee unions would make Kasich a favorite on the national Tea Party scene and solidify his place in the national Right-Wing landscape. This new status would be dually valuable if Rick Perry were to win the Republican nomination and then become President.

“The vote is a referendum — literally — on Senate Bill 5, but because the governor supported the bill, it can also partly a referendum on the governor’s approach to policy change at the state level,” said University of Akron political scientist John Green.

A loss for Senate Bill 5 would hurt Kasich’s political profile but “a victory would be positive for the governor in terms of national ambitions, and it could help him eventually obtain national office — elected or appointed,” Green said.”

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