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Ohio SB 5: The Anti-Collective Bargaining Bill Explained

Mar 2, 2011 – 1:45 PM
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Mary Phillips-Sandy Contributor

Today the Ohio Senate will consider Senate Bill 5, which was just approved by the state's Insurance, Commerce and Labor Committee in a 7-5 vote.

SB 5, as it's known, is sponsored by Sen. Shannon Jones, a first-term Republican from Ohio's 7th District.

The bill takes aim at state collective bargaining laws, and opponents have dubbed it an anti-labor or anti-union bill. Jones told the Youngstown Business Journal: "We cannot restore our economy and create jobs if we keep raising the tax burden on Ohioans, and the only way to get that under control is to limit the growth of government. Senate Bill 5 is an important step in that process."

Here's what we know about SB 5:
  • It would limit collective bargaining rights for public employees, including teachers, police officers and firefighters. In its original version, SB 5 included a ban on collective bargaining. After several days of protests at the Ohio statehouse, Senate Republicans agreed to amend SB 5. The bill now permits union negotiations for wages, hours and working conditions, but still bans collective bargaining for benefits. It also eliminates binding arbitration and prohibits public employees from going on strike.
  • It revises the process for contract disputes. Under SB 5, elected officials at the state and local levels would be given the authority to resolve contract disputes with public employees.
  • Thousands could be affected. Northern Ohio's The Morning Journal reports that 350,000 workers would be impacted by SB 5's changes if it becomes law.
  • It could mean big savings for the state. The Ohio Office of Collective Bargaining said SB 5 could save the state as much as $1.3 billion, largely because it cuts pay increases for public workers and requires them to pay more for their health insurance. It also limits sick leave and vacation time.
  • A last-minute committee maneuver is drawing scrutiny. SB 5 could not proceed to the full Senate without approval from the Insurance, Commerce and Labor Committee. Today's committee meeting passed the measure after Sen. Bill Seitz, a Cincinnati Republican who opposed SB 5, was replaced on the committee by Sen. Cliff Hite, a fellow GOPer who supports the bill. Ohio politics blog Plunderbund wonders if this move may have violated parliamentary rules, since it does not appear to have been announced in advance by the president of the Senate.
  • It covers hundreds of pages. Plunderbund also reports that the original bill consists of about 500 pages, and the Senate Republicans' latest amendments added another 99. This omnibus amendment was just released Tuesday afternoon, which some say left too little time for analysis before this morning's committee vote.
The Republican-controlled Ohio Senate could vote on SB 5 as soon as this afternoon, and Bloomberg reports that if the bill passes, opponents could launch a petition drive to put a repeal measure on November ballots. If enough valid petition signatures are gathered, the bill would not take effect unless voters uphold it.

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