COLUMBUS, Ohio -- Hundreds of union workers showed up at the Ohio Statehouse to demonstrate opposition to Senate Bill 5, but the Senate Insurance, Commerce and Labor Committee listened to proponent testimony in a room than held roughly 100 people.
"This has nothing to do with jobs and so I think the politicians need to go and find the solution for jobs," said Mark hill, a teacher in Worthington.
The overflow crowd could only listen to audio from the testimony in the Statehouse atrium and rotunda. Supporters of SB 5, which would end collective bargaining for state employees and limit how local public service workers negotiate contracts, testified that cities need a change to keep costs down and shift power back to management.
"Make employees pay at least 20 percent of their health care costs and give management greater discretion in selection affordable plans," suggested Steve Herwat, deputy mayor of Toledo. "We're not going to pave any residential streets this year because we're going to use that money to pay for employee costs... we have to lay off 75 street cops before we can lay off one sergeant."
State employees, public college and university workers could lose their right to collectively bargain under SB 5. Local police and firefighters could lose binding arbitration as a dispute resolution option.
"They're trying to fix something that isn't broke, " said KJ Watts, a Lancaster firefighter. "It's illegal to strike right now because of binding arbitration. We have an end result to any dispute. You lift that off of there, who knows what could happen."
Teachers and other local employees could lose the ability to negotiate health insurance coverage. They may have to pick up a greater percentage of their health care costs, and automatic pay increases could give way to merit pay.
"Automatic pay increases that are based on longevity should be eliminated. Salaries should be market-based," testified Chris Kershner, who serves as vice president of the Dayton Chamber of Commerce.
"I have a great fear that we are losing that working class. We are losing that middle America," said Jean Fightmaster, a retired state worker.
Opponents are scheduled to testify on Thursday.
Summary: this bill aims to kill collective bargaining for all state employees, including cops, firefighters, teachers, professors, and medical professionals. Ohio has had collective bargaining rights since the 1980s, to give you some context. A very large turn-out is expected at Thursday's hearings, which are believed to be critical, as the only hope of killing this bill lies in public protest ASAP. (As proponents are trying to rush the bill through the state government. Our governor is the one who just called a cop an "idiot" on Youtube, so he's all for this, of course.) Because Ohio's state government is in the hands of the Republican party, this bill unfortunately stands a good chance of passing. If you are an Ohioan and disagree with this bill, the time to let your state officials know is NOW. You can find your senators at their website (http://www.ohiosenate.gov/) and you can call Governor Kasich's office (614) 466-3555.)
The Daily Record
Dispatch Politics gives an overview of what's going on
A study which demonstrates public employees actually earn *less* than private employees
Edited: Because apparently the font was coming off as small for some folks. (It's not on my screen, so I'm a baffled, but eh, it doesn't take much to confuse me these days.) My apologies and let me know if it is still teeny!