Building a Better Ohio has a real hard problem finding a good community story to use as a case study as why Issue 2 is needed. First, they tried to use the news coverage of how the Village of Mt. Sterling was laying off all but its police chief as evidence of the need for Issue 2. That was until we had to point out that Mt. Sterling’s workforce isn’t unionized, so collective bargaining reform won’t change the situation. Now, they’re claiming that Issue 2 would prevent the layoffs of 14 firefighters in Lancaster (they’ve also been citing Lancaster elsewhere, including in the statewide televised debate last week.)
The only problem is that nobody from the campaign bothered asking anyone in Lancaster about such a claim (like the Republican Mayor of Lancaster?) The other problem is that someone now has asked the Republican Mayor of Lancaster what he thinks about the claim that enactment of SB 5 would have prevented the layoffs of those firefighters.
[Source: The American Independent, with a HT to: David Pepper]
“Senate Bill 5 doesn’t save the day for anybody,” he told The American Independent. “It’s still up to the local government to have a meaningful relationship with their bargaining units, which I think we do, here in Lancaster. In particular, both fire and police have taken zero-percent increases over the last two years without SB5 hanging over anyone’s heads.
“Both fire and police [unions’ bargaining units] had closed contracts, but they opened them up to allow us to work with them on a number of issues, not just salary,” he said.
SB5 would require all public employees to pay at least 15-percent of the costs for health care.
“The health insurance participation [for employees] used to be minimal; now it’s up to 14 percent,” Smith said about Lancaster. “Three years ago, we asked for 10- and then 12-percent, and we have been working with our employees to have them pay more of their share, because health-care costs have been escalating. But we’ve also changed the health plan itself, so it’s not as favorable as it used to be, and all of that has been done with the understanding of the bargaining units.”
So labor in Lancaster has been willing to reopen their already agreed upon contracts to renegotiate them to make concessions to help the city to balance its budget and already mostly meets the mandates that SB 5 would require that Building a Better Ohio claims would save these jobs if they’re implemented. In other words, Building a Better Ohio has its facts wrong again. At least this time, they are correct that the workforce is unionized, so I guess that’s progress. But they never bothered checking the collective bargaining agreement there to see if this agreement if made to comply with the restrictive mandates SB 5 requires would result in enough savings to save these jobs.
But if not the firefighters’ collective bargaining rights, what does the Mayor of Lancaster blame for these layoffs?
Smith said Lancaster didn’t have a problem with bargaining units but rather the state’s reduction of funds allocated to local governments. In an attempt to balance the state’s budget, Governor John Kasich reduced the amount paid out to cities and towns in the state by about half.
Smith said Lancaster also received fewer local income tax dollars, as well, compounding the problems.
“We lost 50 percent of that due to the state allocating that money back to themselves, instead of to the city,” he said.
Smith said the city had been unable to fill three other firefighter positions due to budget constraints as well as five police jobs, and around 20 other city positions.
He added the loss of state funding for his city was exacerbated by a decrease in local income taxes collected there. Smith said that, while he was optimistic about stabilizing the short-term with a .25-percent raise in local income tax, he predicted that Kasich’s plan to do away with the estate tax by 2013 would represent yet another obstacle to Lancaster’s return to normalcy.
John Kasich’s “Jobs” Budget is to blame for the loss of fourteen firefighters in Lancaster, not collective bargaining. Remember Kasich’s call for “shared services” and consolidation that his budget mandates local governments to do by starving them of funding? Yeah, such actions often require layoffs, too. Kasich always glosses over that part.
John Kasich never wants to take responsibility for the negative consequences of his own policy because John Kasich is never wrong about anything. Unfortunately, Building a Better Ohio is almost never right about anything as we see they’ve been caught in yet another lie.