Thursday, March 31, 2011

Senate Bill 5, That Strips Ohio's Unions Of Collective Bargaining, Power, Passes Legislature, Ballot Initiative Is Next, Unions Say

Ohio State Rep. John Barnes Jr. (D-12)
Ohio Gov. John Kasich












Cleveland Police Patrolmen's Association President Steve Loomis
Ohio State Sen. Shannon Jones (R-7)




Editors note: (Since the below article was written Ohio Gov. John Kasich, on April 1, signed Senate Bill 5 after it was passed by the House of Representatives March 30 and the Senate affirmed House amendments to the bill. If Ohio unions, with the help of the Ohio Democratic Party and others, get the signatures necessary for a ballot initiative as promised., the bill would not become law unless Ohio voters approve it at the ballot box in Nov.).

Published March 31, 2011

By Kathy Wray Coleman, Editor of The Kathy Wray Coleman Online News Blog.Com (www.kathywraycolemanonlinenewsblog.com)

A Republican fueled bill that strips Ohio public employees of the right to strike and significantly curtails collective bargaining rights of police, school teachers and other union affiliates passed the Ohio House of Representatives yesterday and is expected to be signed by Republican Gov John Kasich immediately after amendments to the bill are endorsed in the Senate where it originated.

In addition to the governor's office, Republicans control both the House and Senate.

Ohio unions are gearing up to put a referendum on the Nov. ballot for a determination by voters, a posture that would halt implementation of the bill into law inpsite of Kasich's signature until voters decide. Unions need about 231,000 signatures to put the measure on the ballot, a figure that by state law represents 6 percent of those that voted in last year's gubernatorial election.

"In the end public employees will win and we shall overcome," said State Rep. John Barnes Jr. (D-12), a Cleveland Democrat. "Senate Bill 5 is bad for Ohio and strips workers of their freedom, and their dignity."

The bill, which is Kasich's claim to fame, represents a sweeping overhaul of collective bargaining. It would essentially limit collective bargaining to negotiations on wages and strips unions of binding arbitration on pensions, health care and other issues. It also jails employees for striking and links employee raises and promotions to merit activity, the latter provision that could hurt the Black community since Blacks, particularly teachers, are often the last hired and the first fired, and Black teachers in Cleveland and elsewhere in Ohio are typically saddled with low performing and problem students in a disproportionate fashion.

Another stand out provision of SB 5 is that public employees will now have the option of not joining unions, an option precluded under current collective bargaining law in Ohio.

Cleveland Police Patrolmen's Association President Steve Loomis, who has been out front stomping for Cleveland police and other law enforcement personnel, told reporters that the fight will continue through the referendum measure and said that he is extremely disappointed because he and other policemen "voted for Gov. Kasich."

Over the past few weeks thousands of teachers, firefighters, policemen, nurses, electricians and other union affiliates from across Ohio swarmed the Statehouse in protest of the union reform measure, including members of AFSCME, the AFLCIO , whom Cleveland teachers belong to, and the also powerful Ohio Education Association, a union primarily for suburban school teachers and higher education assistant professors and professors.

Kasich, 58, joined Republican Gov Scott Walker of Wisconsin and other fiscal conservatives in Indiana, Michigan and elsewhere in pushing for state legislative policy designed to subordinate America's unions. He said that Ohio's unions have become too powerful and too expensive, and that limiting collective bargaining will save money as the state faces what the governor says is an $8 billion budget deficit.

Sponsored by Shannon Jones (R-7), a Springsboro Republican, SB 5 is among Ohio's most divisive political measure in decades. It narrowly passed the Senate before heading to the House last week.

Republicans urged Kasich to signed the bill as soon as possible after the Senate affirms amendments made by the House before passage there yesterday. Signing the bill this week would permit the unions' ballot initiative to go before voters this Nov rather than in 2012, a presidential election year that Republicans fear would motivate Ohioans that oppose SB 5 to come out and vote in droves.

Ohio is a pivotal state where no Republican has won the White House without first winning Ohio.