Today, the Director of the Ohio Department of Administrative Services sent a letter out to every State employees regarding SB 5.  Amazingly (or not), the letter seems to be virtually lifted from the Ohio House Republican Organizational Committee’s pro-SB 5 website, SB5Truth.com.

And it contains a number of SB 5 statements that are demonstratively false:

“State employees keep their . . . healthcare benefits.”

This is not true.  SB 5 specifically prohibits collective bargaining units from being involved in the selection of potential health care insurers for union employees.  Furthermore, the bill specifically states that the State is under no obligation to continue to offer the same benefits it offered under the current contract.  Therefore, if you are a State worker and you are satisfied with your health insurer, under SB 5 the State can cease providing that coverage and instead offer a different insurer which provides less coverage to save the State money.

Since SB 5 is billed as a way to save the State costs, there is no reason to believe that these provisions will not impact the healthcare benefits State employees presently enjoy.  Yes, they will still be offered healthcare insurance, but under SB 5, it doesn’t have to be the same kind of coverage as presently required.

According to the nonpartisan Legislative Service Commission, SB 5:

Requires health care benefits provided through a jointly administered trust fund to be the same as the health care benefits provided to other public employees.

Furthermore, SB 5 mandates that State employees not only pay 15% of health insurance premium costs, but also dental, vision, short-term disability, etc.  My understanding is that presently state employees do not currently pay that much towards the premium on dental and vision, for example.

SB 5 maintains the right of Ohio’s public employees to collectively bargain for wages and working conditions, a right they have had since 1983.”

To the extent that this letter uses the term “maintains” to suggest that there is no impact or change under SB 5, this statement is also demonstratively false according to the Legislative Service Commission. 

Although the bill generically says that: “All matters pertaining to wages, hours, or and terms, and other conditions of employment between the public employer and the exclusive representative…,” it goes on and discusses a number of exceptions.  First, SB 5 declares that the “the inclusion of a provision in a previous collective bargaining agreement shall not be used as a basis for the provision being determined to concern wages, hours, and terms and conditions.”

In other words, just because it was in the last agreement doesn’t mean that the employer is obligated to consider it a term regarding a “work condition” (which I don’t believe the bill ever defines) in the first post-SB 5 negotiation.  Or as LSC put it:

Permits public employers to not bargain on any subject reserved to the management and direction of the governmental unit, even if the subject affects wages, hours, and terms and conditions of employment.

SB 5 also declares the following subjects as not being terms eligible for consideration in collective bargaining:

  • The privatization of a public employer?s services or contracting out of the
    public employer?s work
  • The number of employees required to be on duty or employed in any
    department, division, or facility of a public employer.

Now think of a prison guard.  You gonna tell me whether he has to work with inexperienced private guards hired by some private contractor the State decided to go with, or the number of guards he should expect to be by his side in some of the most dangerous areas of a prison isn’t something most folks would consider to be a matter of his “working conditions?”  They might, but SB 5 does not.  And for that reason, the DAS letter is false.

“SB 5 makes no changes to existing contracts and the State has no plans to seek changes in the current contract.”

This is technically true, but with one notable exception that explains why the Administration felt compelled to add the second part.  If the Administration seeks any modification or extension of any existing agreement, then the bill’s vague “fiscal watch” provisions kick in in which the Governor can declare a fiscal emergency that then allows him to invalidate or modify the agreement.

So as long as the second half of the statement is true, so is the first.

“Negotiations on future contracts will focus on wages, hours, safety equipment, and terms and conditions of employment.”

Not if the Administration intends to follow SB 5 they won’t.  Again, see the above section on “terms and conditions of employment.”  And I’m a little unsure exactly what the unions can negotiate on wages when the Administration, under SB 5, is vested with sole authority to create the merit-pay system SB 5 mandates.

I’d be surprised that employees who are “stepped out” can see raises under the merit-pay system since I understand that school teachers can’t do that under the merit-pay provisions in Kasich’s education budget.

Anyways, here’s the Administration’s letter lobbying its own employees on SB 5:

Apr 21 2011 DAS Dir Blair Re SB5

  • Nyse

    What about exempt employees? What about our longevity pay? I see it all crossed out in the legislation. What about 1 week loss of vacation. No, I oppose this as do most exempt employees along with the retirees. All the exempt where I work are ready to sign the petition, people have been stopping me asking me where and when to sign. I ordered repeal SB 5 stickers for my car before it even passed and have had them on my car.

  • Anon

    Do you believe bozo or do you believe your paycheck and your fellow employees. This is a bad move Prince Johnny. The only question is whether the state patrol will protect you from the tarring feathering and running you out on a rail?

    Just reminds me of George Orwell…..some animals are more equal than others…..

  • Anastasjoy

    I find it completely offensive that they are lobbying state employees on an ultra-partisan measure, politicking on the tax dime. This strikes me as way out of line.

  • Jen

    It all comes down to his argument that no state agency will be required to cut the rights and benefits of public employees. What he conveniently neglects to point out is that state agencies will have no obligation to maintain reasonable rights and benefits. Anyone who has ever sat through contract negotiations knows that every red cent is fought for, every minute of teacher planning time is argued about, and every piece of public safety equipment is haggled over.

  • Fotogirlcb2002

    First off we need to find out how much was spent on these “propaganda” letters and the mailing cost… make a nice “he spent your tax money on crap” ad..
    Second we need to collect all the letters and box them up and mail them back with a big red X on them….if I knew thats what that letter was when it arrived I would put return to sender and let “er go..
    Hate to say this BUT the petitions are going to be slow getting out .. they have to attach the bill to the petition and its bound together —
    the nerve of these people .. started the mud slinging already

  • Fotogirlcb2002

    First off we need to find out how much was spent on these “propaganda” letters and the mailing cost… make a nice “he spent your tax money on crap” ad..
    Second we need to collect all the letters and box them up and mail them back with a big red X on them….if I knew thats what that letter was when it arrived I would put return to sender and let “er go..
    Hate to say this BUT the petitions are going to be slow getting out .. they have to attach the bill to the petition and its bound together —
    the nerve of these people .. started the mud slinging already

  • Freddavisretail

    A step increase is a raise.

  • publichealthgirl

    Except that the Ohio state employee step increases have been frozen for at least 2 years (I believe from July 2009). Also, state employees will be losing money on 4 lost personal days. So, the money they will receive in July of 2011 was money they Should have received in July of 2009. If the provisions of the budget and SB5 go through, they will probably have to pay a lot more for their benefits than the step increase is making up, and will therefore experience a loss in take home pay. And before you accuse me of being a “greedy” state employee, I can assure you that I am not. I work for the non-profit sector. I can, however, see a situation where people are being screwed by the administration and the administration is calling it a favor.

  • Anon

    Thanks, bookmarked this site.

  • Howard

    Please remember that most political office holders are covered with the same insurance as are the employees. However, most are only part-time officials. They have “other full-time day jobs”. The premium cost to the politician is paid for out of his extra earning from his part-time job.
    The employes premium is paid out of their only income.
    I would say to any employee (private or public sector) that supports the Govenor on SB5;
    “When you were in school, you were taught, but you did not learn”.

  • Unlike a lot of other states, Ohio’s legislators are technically full time.

  • Fotogirlcb2002

    I find it offensive that most have been told that we cant pass the petitions during working hours ( paid state time ) and thats fine– we get it –( this isnt a work related thing they say )
    BUT they typed and printed and sealed this letter on state time and its a propaganda letter ! has not a thing to do with work!!

  • Fotogirlcb2002

    I did think he would take this back and say the ” we are in financial distress thing” which he can do passed HB1 under Strickland
    but now I think he will just tie one of those attached flying signs to the back of the plane saying how we are getting raises he cant to give us — aka sucking the public dry — as much as he flies everyone will see it —

  • Fotogirlcb2002

    You go girl — people dont get it — hes hacking on state people first — but its coming to the private sector near you –soon.
    I cant stand he talks to everyone about the pensions and healthcare costs — well he never tells them they are picking up the tab for him and the Ohio congress.

  • Anonymous

    Then there are those that have been stepped out for decades. There are only six annual classification steps for some and no where to be promoted, despite having several college degrees. That just leaves longevity for paltry increases, and well, that’s now gone too.

  • anon2

    It’s already happening. The companies that are hiring are looking for employees w/ reasoning skills, to say nothing of those that are looking to fill technical skilled jobs. The potential employees aren’t there. Their families have left the state, or they got hired out of state when they graduated college.

  • Boo hoo. State workers will have to pay 15 percent of their health care. Boo hoo. Stop your whining. If you don’t like it, find a job in the private sector … oh wait, you would still have to pay at least 15 percent for health care. What a quandary!

    What, no step increases! The travesty. If you don’t like it find a job in the real world … oh wait, the real world doesn’t have step increases either! Merit pay? That is how the real world works.

    No raises for two years!?? How have you survived? Oh wait, the same has happened in the real world.

    I’m tired of state workers whining about SB5. It didn’t go far enough. If you don’t like it get a job in the real world, or better yet a different state. You will quickly find that your cushy overpaid, underworked jobs with the state aren’t so bad even with SB5.

    Stop whining. And stop trying to take more money from me so you can have a free ride on your health insurance. I have a family to support, too.

  • Anastasjoy

    In fact, that sounds like someone should sue. If they are allowed to campaign AGAINST the repeal to state employees, then state employees should be allowed to circulate petitions supporting the repeal. You can’t give free speech on government time to only one side of a debate.

  • Anonymous

    Unlike the Adminsitration, I can back up every one of my claims that this letter is misleading by citing to the nonpartisan analysis of the bill by the Legislative Service Commission as well as specifically cite the bill’s provisions to support my analysis.

    All the Executive Director said was that the DAS had the right to circulate the letter and didn’t violate any political activities prohibition in so doing. A point that if you actually followed what we’ve said on the matter you would have found was a point we also made. The Ohio Elections Commission has not, though, checked the veracity of the claims in the letter. He was only asked as to the appropriateness of the agency in sending any such letter given the pending referendum effort.

    You failed.

  • “Since SB 5 is billed as a way to save the State costs, there is no reason to believe that these provisions will not impact the healthcare benefits State employees presently enjoy. ”

    You’re making worst-case assumptions and passing them off as absolute fact. That’s all every opponent of SB5 has done and will do. It’s a brilliant political strategy, but there’s nothing factual about it.

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