IMG_0806 (2)(Image Source: Joe Weidner, AFSCME Ohio Council 8.)

Senator Shannon Jones

As mentioned earlier today, State Senator Shannon Jones (R-Springboro) finally unveiled the substantive text of SB 5, a bill that would repeal the right of public employees to collectively bargain at the State level and eviscerate the right of local government and teachers.

However, what nobody expected is the record crowd of opponents who appeared to protest Jones’ bill.photo

(Image source:  Anthony Caldwell, SEIU1199)

The Ohio AFL-CIO tweeted that someone from the Capitol Square Review Board estimated that 800 people showed up today for the hearing.  Gongwer reported over Twitter that the hearing had to be moved to a larger space and even then speakers had to be set up in the Capitol Rotunda for everyone to follow it.

image (Image source:  Anthony Caldwell, SEIU1199)

According to the Dayton Daily News, Governor Kasich stopped by the hearings to give the bill his unqualified support.  (I’m sure Senator Jones is thrilled to have the support of a guy with a 30% approval rating.)

So, what does SB 5 do?  Well, according to the Columbus Dispatch, Jones’ bill would:

  • End all collective bargaining rights for state employees, including at universities and colleges;
  • Local police and firefighters would have weakened rights to binding arbitration by instead required deadlocked parties to extend their contract for a year first;
  • Local government could no longer include terms of health insurance coverage or costs in collective bargaining agreements.  Management will pick insurance policies, and employees must cover at least 20 percent of the cost;
  • Allow local governments to hire permanent replacement workers during a strike (i.e. “scabs.”)
  • Prohibits public employers from picking up extra employee pension contributions;
  • Eliminates from state law automatic pay increases for experience and education (no automatic raise when you get your Masters Degree, teachers!);
  • Eliminates from state law leave policies and automatic 15 sick days for teachers (but, hey, enjoy getting those two calamity days back!);
  • Prohibits school districts from bargaining away certain management powers, such as the ability to deploy teachers to certain buildings;
  • No longer makes longevity a deciding factor when management is deciding to make layoffs;
  • Requires a public employer to publish on its website any changes in the union contract that impacts compensation of workers, including wages, length of service payments, and insurance coverage.;
  • Requires the employer and the State Employment Relations Board to publish the parties’ offers on their websites before and after fact-finding is complete; and
  • Allows schools or local governments in fiscal emergency to terminate or modify a collective bargaining agreement.

Again from the Dayton Daily News:

[Jones] said, however, that the public has a right to know more about how public employees are compensated and managers need more flexibility to serve the public better.

Yep, that’s right.  Jones’ bill would actually require more transparency during union negotiations than the Republicans are willing to permit uder RobsOhio.  In fact, they’re 180-degrees from one another.  Ironic, ain’t it?

Last term, Jones had an opportunity to support ending an automatic pay increase for her own salary as a state “employee” during the state budget battle.  She voted against cutting her own salary, but now wants to deny Ohio’s working-class public employees COLA in salaries.

The Ohio AFL-CIO issued a press release after today’s committee hearing blasting Jones’ bill:

“Lawmakers need to stop trying to blame workers for a budget crisis that politicians created, and they need to focus on rebuilding our economy instead of hurting the communities we serve,” said K.J. Watts, a firefighter from the Lancaster area.  “We want to work with lawmakers to come up with balanced solutions to get us out of this mess.  Senate Bill 5 is not the way to do that.”

“This bill puts at risk future generations of Ohioans, like the students I provide services for,” said Mericle Long, a supply coordinator at Ohio State University who lives in Columbus.  “At a time when workers and small businesses are struggling to make ends meet, we need leaders to work to create an economy that works for all and propose initiatives that allow workers to reinvest in their communities, not lower the bar for all workers.”

“Instead of focusing on solving the economic problems facing Ohio and creating family-sustaining jobs for the 500,000 Ohioans who still remain jobless, Senator Jones and Senate GOP leadership are trying to scapegoat hard-working public service workers for our economic and budget woes,” said Ohio AFL-CIO President Tim Burga.

“This bill is a partisan assault on working families and does nothing but punish workers and hurt the middle class, plain and simple,” added Burga.  “This bill would destroy the middle class because the working families this bill affects not only provide vital services, but put money and resources back into their communities, which support local merchants and other small businesses.”

This bill isn’t about the budget state or local.  This bill is about nothing more than Republicans trying to take political vengeance on the teachers and other public unions because they don’t support them on election day.  That’s all this is.  The spoils of their election victory from November and the hopes that they can either eliminate the unions as a political threat to their agenda or scare them into submission.

Whatever happened to the freedom of contract?  It’s still recognized under our federal Constitution.  And it’s been recognized by the highest Court of our State.  It’s just been forgotten about by our elected legislature.

“It has long been recognized that persons have a fundamental right to contract freely with the expectation that the contract will be enforced.  This freedom is as fundamental to our society as the right to write and to speak without restraint.  Government interference with this right must therefore be restricted to those exceptional cases where intrusion is absolutely necessary, such as contracts promoting illegal acts.”—Nottingdale Homeowners’ Assoc. v. Darby (1987), 33 Ohio St. 3d 32, 36.

And what about the “home rule” rights of municipalities under Art. XVIII, Sec. 7?  Who is the legislature to decide what a home rule city can and cannot bargain for in its collective bargaining agreements?  Can a government just declare its own contracts null and void by declaring, by legislative act, that the party it entered into the contract no longer legally exists?

And don’t fool yourself.  The second this bill becomes law, someone will suggest its “unfair” for cities to be forced to tolerate public unions when the State doesn’t.  If successful, this bill won’t be the end.

And note that the bill doesn’t just impact collective bargaining, but also civil service protection.  The bill mandates that the Ohio Department of Administrative Service “to develop a merit-based system of pay.”  That sounds innocuous, but since merit-based is ordinarily a subjective, not objective system, it allows political appointees to tool to reward/punish public employees on political motives.

And consider this ridiculous divergence.  Thanks to the bill, while local police may still belong to a union, the uniformed officers of the Ohio Highway Patrol cannot.  Yep, Gov. Kasich just endorsed a bill that would remove all union protections to the very people who are willing to risk their lives to protect him and his family every day.

We’ll, of course, have more on the story as it develops.

But again, when will this information be mentioned in the Ohio media:

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  • RK

    To all of those who are not old enough to know what public employment was like before collective bargaining, please take the time to learn how little public employees were paid, how few benefits and rights they were given, how they were undervalued as employees, how they were coerced to support leadership, how hiring was not based upon qualifications but who you were . . .

    The struggles to create collective bargaining laws in Ohio, by many committed people and elected officials, resulted in huge gains for our society; If this bill or any part of it is passed, the public loses. It will be generations and many battles before we will have the opportunity to earn back what we are in jeopardy of losing. It is time to stand.

  • Fotogirlcb2002

    how can any tell what this bill says — I have followed legislature for years and years – I have yet to see such a mess as this — very confusing ( which I am sure was done to keep us in the dark )

  • Pingback: Tweets that mention 800 opponents attend the Senate hearings on Sen. Jones’ war on public union bill -- Topsy.com()

  • Fotogirlcb2002

    hey ModernEsquire didnt you have something to do with legislature stuff once upon a time ? what do you think of how its written? this saddens me that people dont care what happens to others– I dont get Jones comment that “the world has changed dramatically” and hooks in collective bargaining??
    yes the world has changed and the almighty dollar means more and more to companies and their ceo’s– notice their was no mention of the high salaries being paid out– I have heard theres an old bill left from stricklands days about cutting their pay — no mention of reviving it —
    she says this isnt a slap at unions and state employees –looks like it to me —
    I hope they are in the food line behind me — all of them — as hard as I work for people to get elected — I will work that hard for her not to get re-elected

  • I’m not a Republican. I do believe this is politically motivated by Jones, who is a very ambitious and partisan person.
    I understand public employment has a tendency to be political, if not partisan. My question is what sense does it make to cushion your state job if you are building resentment from the average worker or business owner who doesn’t have mandatory raises, contract employment no matter how much you disrespect your customers, or generous and defined benefit retirement? As much as you or I don’t respect the legislative and executive branch (and corporate fat cats) for being out of touch with all their perks and cronyism, how about some parity of public employment instead of living at the expense of the regular Joe? People are losing their jobs and homes left and right, and taxes go up every year. My wife works for a major hospital system and they stopped the 401(k) match in 2008! And the levies and income taxes keep rolling on.
    A little belt tightening would earn a ton of respect and solidarity with private sector workers. In fact, the best counter to Jones’ bill would be some voluntary reforms – not just cash but retirement and other benefits or whatever – and get the people of Ohio on your side. Just sayin’

  • Anonymous

    Well, first, your taxes have been going DOWN, not up. State income taxes were cut 17% while Strickland was Governor. In fact, even the additional tax cuts he froze were unfrozen before Kasich became Governor.

    The public sector unions made major concession during both budgets, including accepting pay cuts. One of the most unreported stories about the economy last year was how it was government workers who were losing their jobs while the private sector resumed hiring.

  • Littleguy

    For those in the private sector, your benefits too will be eroded by this, so don’t cheer too much. In the days before unions workers had no voice and wages for everyone were held down by a few rich people running the monopolies. King Kasich would will take us back to a cast system if we all sit by and let him lead us in a race to the bottom. If is funny though, some of my friends who voted for him are aghast wondering what the hell this guy is going to do to them.

  • Mom2two

    It saddens me that people seem to think that state employees require “belt tightening”. Do you know what the last round of collective bargaining bought my family? A loss of $5000 from last years income including 10 days per year over the last two of mandatory furlough, all raises put on hold for two years, complete loss of personal leave time.. not to mention we still saw the “normal” increases in expenses, including increased insurance, decreased coverage, increased out of pocket expenses, increased taxes… My family struggled as much as many others during this time and have bit, scratched and clawed to hang on to our home. However, without collective bargaining, he could very well have been out of a job and we would have been out in the street. We pay the same taxes you do, the same levies.

    If you are not on “our side”, it’s only because you lack information.. truth.. facts.. experience. Instead of demanding public sector employees give up their rights, private sector should be demanding more.. companies should never be able to just stop things like contributing to a 401k without employee input. Wouldn’t it have been better if your wife and her fellow employees had the opportunity to negotiate these changes, rather than the hospital just saying “too bad, it’s done”?

    (Additional) belt-tightening for “solidarity” is a bit like women just asking men to take lower pay so they would feel better about being under-payed, rather than demanding equality.

  • why no come spend a day in our school system and see why we don’t need to cut wages and hurt the student’s anymore than you will when you cut the money we so need. Have you ever drove and bus, fixed food for students or even been a classroom??? Maybe you should Iam Shaon Ball, Ed Aide, Franklin Heights High School Southwestern City Schools Grove City Ohio

  • Fotogirlcb2002

    reply to myself ? why? because I tried to read this bill 3 different times — and it sort of aggrivated me that the newspapers didnt bother to try and read it( theres a bunch of stuff in it they didnt report) — this sucker has over 400 pages to it –its a useless bill — a retaliation for unions and is members all because they didnt support Kasich–
    maybe granny can sit on this as she drives to see over the steering wheel

  • Fotogirlcb2002

    Way to go Petal50—

  • Boogie 05

    It’s my understanding that this her salary is $174,000!!!! But, she’s worried about the union and my measly little $40,000. If she is really trying to make cuts she need to start at the top…they’re the ones making the most money!

  • Fotogirlcb2002

    I learned today that Ms Jones was pressed in questions( after the introduction of her SB5 this week ) asked how much money her bill planned to save when collective bargaining is gone — she replyed again and again she didnt know .What? she claims this is breaking the budgets of all cities, counties, the state–and she doesnt know–
    then when pressed further she because confused apparently and admitted this has nothing to do with the state budget.So its out -this is an attack on unions and their members —

    know what I find bad — Egypt has fought for weeks to become democratic — to demand better wages, better government,better leaders, rights for their people ( what collective bargaining and unions have been doing for years ) and Ohio answers back with a senate bill that takes all of those things from its people. They have come out of oppression and we are returning to it

  • Anonymous

    I worked for Summit County for 8 years and the State of Ohio for 12+ years. At Summit County, there were 2 or 3 years in which line workers received no raises while management did. During that time, we also paid twice or more for healthcare coverage.

    During the early 2000s, state workers had our pay frozen for three years. At the same time, my sister who worked in the private sector received annual raises averaging 5%. I can’t begin to count the number of hiring freezes there were. The thing about hiring freezes is that means ZERO opportunities for promotion or even lateral transfer.

    I’m glad I was able to leave publlic employment in 2008 and begin two years of full-time volunteer service. At least my economic situation was stable then.

  • Fotogirlcb2002

    I hope you relate these facts to your congressman — in 9 years of contracts( 3-3yr contracts) 5 of those years were no raise years.
    everyone should relate this kind of info to their congressman — they all seem to think we are getting rich.
    the SB5 is a blatant attempt to rope us all in to the old way of trying to keep down the working force– rich richer –poor poorer there will be no middle class

  • Pud102

    This bill is an attack on the individuals who are vital to childrens future. Educators are given very few pats on the back when most politicians would not be where they are today.

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