As the battle over Senate Bill moves to the house, we’re seeing more and more organizations coming out against SB5 and the politicians that are supporting it. Police and fire groups have been especially vocal. And now we can add the Ohio Association of Chiefs of Police to that list as well.

According to the OACP, SB5 “will cause us more problems than it solves.” It is “not an improvement for local communities, officials, or policing” and it is “over-reaching” and “too extreme”.

Their full statement is available below.

March 14, 2011

On March 2, 2011 the Ohio Senate passed Senate Bill 5, a sweeping reform to Ohio’s Collective Bargaining Laws. On February 25, 2011 the Ohio Association of Chiefs of Police shared our thoughts and concerns regarding Senate Bill 5 and now the Bill is in the House for further consideration. The Ohio Association of Chiefs of Police opposes this legislation based on the following points of concern.

1. As stated in my letter to the Ohio Senate, one of the greatest problems with combining many important topics (as does Senate Bill 5), is the inability to allow individuals to come to agreement on any one topic. By lumping topics together under one piece of legislation, especially topics of great concern and impact, the inability for agreement is exacerbated. There must be a better way to change/enhance/address such serious concerns other than the current “umbrella” legislation.

2. We believe that public safety employees should not have the right to strike.

3. Our current system of arbitration rulings have not been consistent and can be very frustrating to our police leaders and police chiefs.

4. Collective bargaining has played an important role in modern police employee/management relations. It is extremely important to maintain balance between employee rights and management rights, and in most cases this becomes an issue of local concern.

5. Local jurisdictions should maintain the right to make contracts with their employees as they see fit. There are mechanisms in place to rectify the inability of local jurisdictions to pay wages and benefits; it is called lay-off. In many cases the need for lay-off will spark the call for re-negotiations. It is incumbent on local jurisdictions to not “give the farm away” in negotiations and equally important for employees to recognize that there has to be limits in what a jurisdiction can offer and pay.

6. Caps on sick leave and vacation accrual fly in the face of existing efforts to minimize abuse and maximize productivity.

7. The Ohio Association of Chiefs of Police have heard the following statements concerning SB5, the Bill is “over-reaching”, “too extreme” and goes “too far” in making significant changes.

8. Lumping public safety workers with teachers is like comparing apples to oranges. For example a teacher works 9 months, police and fire work 12 months creating an injustice in sick leave and again is an example of “lumping” public sector employees together.

9. Local governments must maintain local control.

10. Layoffs based on merit have great potential for subjective and/or biased input.

11. Impasse negotiations and arbitrations must remain neutral and must be fair. Arbitration, conciliation and fact-finding are important topics to address and are ripe for change.

In the words of Chief Kunze, “The bottom line for OACP is that there are so many separate changes pulled under one umbrella that on balance, this bill will cause us more problems than it solves. I believe that OACP should oppose the bill, recognizing that it will likely pass, expressing that while collective bargaining in Ohio needs work, this bill is not an improvement for local communities, officials, or policing”

The Ohio Association of Chiefs of Police stands ready to assist our legislature in crafting revisions to Ohio’s Collective Bargaining Law, but it must be done in such a fashion as to engender trust and confidence by all of the stakeholders.

Respectfully submitted,

Chief Michael Harnishfeger, CLEE
President, Ohio Association of Chiefs of Police