On Nov. 8, voters in the state of Ohio will have the opportunity to repeal Senate Bill 5, now known as Issue 2, by casting a no vote at their local polling place.
Those unfamiliar with this legislation should know that despite what has been repeatedly printed in the media, the bill destroys the collective bargaining rights of unionized teachers, firefighters, social workers, prison guards, and nurses.
Although supporters of SB 5 contend that the legislation does not eliminate bargaining, a close examination of the bill shows that it contains several hundred pages of policy changes devoted to its demise.
This bill is unsafe. For instance, it will prevent teachers from having a voice in how their schools operate, make it illegal for nurses to negotiate for safe staffing levels, and prevent police and fire personnel from bargaining for the necessary equipment that is so vital to the performance of their duties. Barring teachers' input into how schools are run will lead to numerous problems such as overcrowded classrooms. A lack of nurses will result in unsafe hospitals and the safety of communities will be compromised as the result of ill-equipped fire and police personnel. Hence, this legislation will have a significant negative impact on the essential services provided by the hard-working public sector workers of this state.
The bill also mandates merit pay, eradicates negotiated benefits, and dramatically increases employee contributions toward health insurance premiums and pension plans. Those unfamiliar with merit pay should know that such a pay scheme ties job performance to what one earns. This illogical mandate creates questions that are impossible to answer for those employed in the public sector, such as: How does one merit pay a firefighter? Those who have been misled into believing that teachers contribute nothing to their health care or retirement plans should know that a typical teacher pays $7,300 a year on insurance premiums and pension contributions.
Readers should also be aware that the bill, developed and promoted by the Republican controlled legislature, passed by only one vote and had no support from Democratic lawmakers. In addition, the governor touted this bill as being necessary to save the state money and to balance the state budget. What many citizens are unaware of, however, is that the governor not only made himself and other high-ranking state officials exempt from the provisions of merit pay and pension and health care premium contributions, but generously rewarded themselves with salaries that far exceed those of the previous administration.
Many citizens are also unaware of the fact that numerous unions throughout the state have repeatedly accepted salary freezes and reductions in wages and benefits so that their local school districts and municipalities could stay financially sound. Hence, this bill is not only unfair but inequitable as well.
Finally, it is important to note that this legislation applies to 360,000 public sector workers. The loss of wages and benefits will have a significant negative impact on their families and will hurt the economy.
Please encourage your friends, family, and neighbors to vote no on Issue 2 on Nov. 8.