Ohio fire fighters march to the Ohio Statehouse to rally against SB5

Kasich has not been a friend to Ohio’s public safety workers over the past four years, fire fighters especially.  In 2011, he championed Senate Bill 5, which would have stripped fire fighters of the ability to bargain for salary, safety equipment and staffing levels.   And in his two biennium budgets, Kasich cut over $1.8 Billion to local governments.

These drastic funding cuts have forced many cities and towns to raise local taxes through EMS and fire levies.  Bucyrus, Canton Township, Defiance, Mansfield, Violet Township, Sheffield Lake, Bath Township, Conneuat, Delphos and Moraine all passed new fire levies.  Others weren’t so lucky, like Franklin Township, Clearcreek and Jefferson Township, who all saw their levies fail.

Other cities have sought temporary SAFER (Staffing for Adequate Fire and Emergency Response) grants from the federal government.  Cincinnati, for example, was able to hire over 100 fire fighters using an $8 million SAFER grant last year.   Fostoria, Steubenville, Cleveland Heights and Tiffin have also been able to maintain staffing because of federal grants.  Marion passed a levy and received a grant.   Unfortunately, this is only a temporary solution.  When the grant money runs out, the cities will be facing the same Kasich-caused budget problems as before.

Other cities were forced to layoff fire fighters.  Middletown is looking at laying off 15 fire fighters.  Hamilton cut two fire houses and 18 fire fighters.  Findlay laid off at least 8.  And Warren is currently looking at layoffs.   And this doesn’t even count the cities who have have not filled positions left empty through retirement.

Kasich’s policies and decisions have hurt fire departments and fire fighters around Ohio, and if he earns a second term, things will only get worse.  Fire fighters from around the state made it clear last week that there wouldn’t stand for that, when they gathered at the IAFF 52nd convention in Cincinnati last week and endorsed Ed FitzGerald for Governor of Ohio.

In a speech to delegates, FitzGerald attacked Kasich for cutting funding to local governments, and promised to fight any attacks on labor if elected.   “Number one, you’re never going to see something like Senate Bill 5 happen again in this state,” said FitzGerald. “Secondly, you’re never going to see right-to-work in this state as long as I’m governor – guaranteed!”

IAFF General President Harold Schaitberger vowed to “help Ed lay off John Kasich just as Kasich and his policies have helped to lay off fire fighters in Ohio.”   “When we say we’re all in, we’re all in,” he said.