Ohio Republicans to modify Senate Bill 5

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February 28 2010

COLUMBUS, Ohio: Ohio Republicans have agreed to modify several components of the highly controversial, Senate Bill 5. The modifications will now allow public employees to collectively bargain for wages. The bill may also permit police and firefighters to bargain for increased safety considerations.[1] If the proposed changes are made, Senate Bill 5 would do the following:

  • Public employees would be prohibited from collectively bargaining for pension or health benefits.
  • Public agencies would be permitted to modify or terminate existing agreements during a fiscal emergency.
  • Public agencies could lay off employees for reasons other than seniority. The bill additionally institutes merit-based pay for most employees.
  • Public employees would be permitted to reject union representation.
  • The bill would give managers increase power to move and change employees by restricting the right of bargaining agreements to include building assignments and minimum class sizes.
  • The public will be granted greater access to negotiated labor agreements.
  • Legislative supporters also plan to ban strikes for all state employees.[2]

Republican Senate President Tom Niehaus argued that the modifications to the bill are not a response to protests but a response to extensive Senate testimony on the bill.[3] Several Senate Republicans had also expressed reservations about the bill prior to the modifications.[4] Senate Minority Leader Capri Cafaro (D) has called the changes mere "window dressing."[3] Ohio Governor John Kasich (R) defended the bill on February 24 before the Greater Akron Chamber of Commerce. Kasich argued that the modified bill ensures that taxpayers, as well as public employees, are represented in the negotiating process.[5]

Update: March 1, 2011

Ohio lawmakers met Tuesday March 1 to formally consider the proposed revisions to Senate Bill 5, including measures to allow collective bargaining for wages and ban strikes. Senate Democrats argued that the bill is irreparable and offered no amendments. The Senate did not vote on an amended bill Tuesday, allowing Senators to review the proposed changes overnight.[6]

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