3/3/11

Bargaining Reform Clears Ohio Senate

But Buckeye RINOs almost derail modernization of outdated statute
The Ohio State Senate just passed SB 5, aimed at limiting unionized state employees' ability to collectively bargain or go on strike. The bill now moves to the state House, which like the Senate, was lost by Democrats in November 2010. Gov. John Kasich has endorsed the measure and is expected to sign it when it reaches his desk.

Democrats united against the reform, and they needed seven Republican members to join with them to stop it. In the end they got six. Pushing the bill through the Senate has been tough for supporters of the plan, with the Republican leader of the state Senate removing two Republicans opposed to the measure to get the bill to the Senate floor today.

Those two Republicans, Sens. Bill Seitz and Scott Oelslager, voted no. So did four of their GOP colleagues: Sens. Jim Hughes, Tim Grendell, Tom Patton and Gayle Manning.

All 10 of the 33-member state Senate's Democrats also voted no. Now the bill moves to the House, where Republicans have a 59-40 advantage.

As in Wisconsin and other states, union workers have rallied against SB 5, packing the grounds of the statehouse in Columbus with thousands of protesters.

Ohio's bill does not exempt police officers and firefighters from the long-overdue labor-state reform bill. Ohio would also make it illegal for state workers to strike and rebalances local governments power in contract negotiations with unionized workers.

Proponents of the bill say it could save Ohio taxpayers upwards of $1 billion in benefits payments, and Kasich and others have said SB 5 is required to balance the state budget. Union activists on the ground in Ohio tell TPM that the crowds gathered to protests SB 5 chanted "shame on you" as the bill passed.

Former Gov. Ted Strickland (D), who lost to Kasich last November, has suggested opponents could launch a ballot initiative campaign to repeal SB 5 if it becomes law as is expected.
(from tpmdc.talkingpointsmemo.com)

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