In a Statehouse room packed with union opponents of a bill that would re-write and possibly eliminate Ohio’s 27 year-old public employee collective bargaining law, State Senator Shannon Jones (R) Springboro, outlined why she was championing SB 5. “Simply put, I am doing this because I want to give government the flexibility and control over its workforce so that it can continue to provide taxpayers with the services needed in a way that is sustainable over time,” said Sen. Jones, the Senate majority whip.
Sen. Jones’ bill would, among other things:
- Eliminate collective bargaining for state employees and employees of state institutions of higher education. Existing contracts would continue until scheduled expiration dates.
- Provide that pay for state employees in the future was based on merit.
- Eliminate statutory salary schedules and step increases.
- Allow local public employers in fiscal emergencies to terminate, modify, or negotiate a contract.
- Eliminate a requirement that deadlocked safety forces submit disputes to binding arbitration, or final offer settlement.
- Provide that if local parties could not reach agreement, provisions of the last contract in effect would continue for one year, or allow the employer to implement any of the recommendations of a fact-finding panel while bargaining continued.
- Allow a public employer, in the case of workers who have a right to strike, to implement any fact-finding recommendation that the employer’s legislative body approves if the employee organization rejects the recommendation. Bargaining may continue, and employees continue to have a right to strike in the event agreement could not be reached.
- Allow a public employer to hire permanent replacement workers during a strike. Current law does not address the issue.
- Provide that only matters pertaining to wages, hours, or terms and conditions of employment were mandatory subjects of bargaining.
- Prohibit length of service from being the only factor used to determine the order of layoffs.
- Prohibit public employers from paying an employee’s required pension contribution.
- Provide that healthcare plan terms and plan design were not subject to collective bargaining, resulting in uniform benefit packages negotiated on behalf of all employees.
- Eliminate new continuing contracts for teachers.
- Eliminate teacher leave policies from state law, and require local boards of education to establish such policies for workers not covered under a contract.
Sen. Jones said other provisions in the bill would “increase transparency” of the process, requiring public employers to publish an online report describing provisions of a contract that affect any compensation including wages, food and clothing allowances, length of service payments, and insurance coverage.
Sen. Jones said she was not intimidated at the unusually large labor turnout. “It’s just democracy in action. This is why we do this job,” she said.
An estimated 1,000 public employees and their union officials crowded the statehouse to voice their opposition the bill while others marched around the statehouse carrying anti-S.B. 5 signs.
At one point, Governor Kasich dropped by the hearing to express is support for Sen. Jones’ efforts, according to his press secretary.