Republicans have tried to paint Senate Bill 5 as a reasonable response to the Public Employee Collective Bargaining bill signed by Governor Celeste in 1983. The bill expanded collective bargaining rights to “six hundred thousand public employees including teachers, firefighters, police officers, state and local service workers [that] could not only form and join a union, but also enjoy legal rights in negotiating workplace contracts with the public employer.”
According to Kasich insider Chan Cochran SB5 is “an ‘equal and opposite’ reaction to the excesses of 1983”. Cochran blames, among other things, the current $8 billion dollar deficit on the collective bargaining rights instituted in 1983, which he calls “bad public policy that would lead to growth of public sector costs at a rate far exceeding the taxpayers’ ability to keep up.”
Supporters of the bill have decided on an initial messaging strategy that avoids big economic and policy discussions and instead tries to focus on the issue of jobs. Their message boils down to this: unless we implement SB5 and roll back all of the reforms from the 1983 bill, cities will be forced to layoff even more employees during a financial crisis.
Their first ad uses Toledo Mayor Mike Bell to make the case. Bell claims:
“Years ago, I lost my job as a firefighter because my city ran out of money, so as mayor I’m working to fix my city without laying off good people or raising taxes… that’s why I support Issue 2 (SB5)”
The problem with Bell’s message is two-fold.
1. The primary reason cities are running out of money this year is because Kasich stole 25% of their state funding to balance his own budget. Next year they are losing 50%. The problem isn’t union wages and benefits – it’s Kasich’s budget, which deals with state shortfalls by pushing the burden down to locals. SB5 won’t fix that.
2. The current collective bargaining laws weren’t even in effect when Bell was laid off!
According to a 2008 article from in the Toledo Blade: “In 1980 … 61 firefighters were removed from their jobs – among them future Fire Chief Michael Bell.”
Bell was temporarily laid off from his job in the middle of a financial crisis IN 1980 – 3 years before Celeste signed the collective bargaining rights bill (1983) and 4 years before it went into effect (1984).
I have to give BABO some credit: the ad was simple, focused and looked good. But ultimately it’s pretty damn deceptive once you actually know the facts.