Extreme Makeover SB5

I was literally getting a live blog set up in the Statehouse Atrium for today’s Senate Insurance, Commerce, and Labor Committee when Chairman Bacon announced that given nobody has seen the Omnibus Amendment, the committee would adjourn until tomorrow morning. 

We haven’t had time to process this massive amendment.  Nobody has.  It’s 100 pages of amendments to a 500 page bill.  And everyone just got it.  There was no sponsor testimony to explain these amendments.  There is no Legislative Service Commission analysis yet.

And they’re going to vote on this bill tomorrow morning.  First, the Senate cancels session.  We arrive to find the entire Senate chamber roped off.  Then the committee, which had acknowledged that there were be no vote today, at least suggested there would be some explanation of what these amendments are.

Meanwhile Senator Bill Seitz (R-Cincinnati) wrote a letter to the editor of the Cincinnati Enquirer warning that his party is overreaching  in SB 5.

[UPDATE:] Senator Jones’ office has just released a summary of the Omnibus Amendment.  Please note these claims have not yet been verified by independent legislative analysis.

Here’s what Jones’ claims her amendment bill changes:

  1. Restores collective bargaining for all employees as indicated by President Niehaus on Thursday.
  2. Public employees have no right to strike, the penalty for illegal striking are subject to removal with permanent replacement workers to docking twice the daily pay rate.  Furthermore, a court may issue an injunction punishable with a fine up to $1,000 to 30 days in jail, or both if the order is violated.
  3. Wages, hours, and terms and conditions of employment are subject to collective bargaining, but health care benefits, pension pick-ups, privatization of services, workforce levels, and other provisions are not.
  4. In lieu of binding arbitration, any part may request the State Employment Relations Board (SERB) to intervene who can appoint a mediator.  If that doesn’t work, the parties can also request the appointment of a fact finder.  If there is still a stalemate, the parties submit their last best offer to the legislative body at that governmental level, who makes the requests public before then holding a meeting to choose one.  Whichever offer they choose is binding for at least three years.
  5. Declares that any bargaining unit that includes rank and file firefighters with those who rank lieutenant or above (similar to police departments) will no longer to be eligible be an appropriate bargaining unit that can be recognized by SERB.
  6. The bill reinstates pay ranges, but still eliminates step values and automatic raises.  Raises in the ranges can be given based on merit.  Teacher pay is negotiable and can be based on the level of license held by the teacher, whether the teacher is a “highly qualified teacher” as defined in the statute, results of performance evaluations, and the value-added measure usted to determine student performance.
  7. The bill limits employee vacation & sick leave.  Vacation leave is capped at 7.7. hours per biweekly pay period after 19 years of service.  Sick leave for county, municipal, and civil service township service, and state college and universities is accrued at 10 days a year.
  8. Health care benefits will apply equally to all employees, regardless of whether they are able to collective bargain.
  9. Allows all collective bargaining agreements to be reopened under a fiscal emergency/watch.
  10. Teachers will now be allowed to negotiate an initial collective bargaining agreement for up to three years.  Subsequent contracts are two to five years.
  11. Dictates that university faculty that “exercise managerial authority” are not subject to collective bargaining.
  12. “Prohibits length of service (seniority) from being the sole factor in determining layoffs and requires compliance with federal anti-discrimination statutes.  For teachers, preference is given to teachers under continuing contracts, then the school board considers the relative quality of performance as the principal fact in determining reductions.

We’ll have our own reflection on this later, likely not until late tonight.