April 24, 2014

Ohio lawmakers smash bargaining rights

COLUMBUS, Ohio — It’s official. The Ohio House and Senate have passed anti-union legislation that limits public-employee collective bargaining.

Gov. John Kasich intends to sign the bill into law.

The legislation bars strikes by public employees and limits collective bargaining to wages — but only if the public body chooses to bargain collectively. Otherwise, wages — as well as health care benefits, pensions and outsourcing — will be set unilaterally by public bodies.

The bill also limits payroll deduction for union political action committees and eliminates the use of seniority in determining layoffs.

In the works is a voter referendum for the fall that would overturn the legislation. The UTU, through the newly created UTU Collective Bargaining Defense Fund, will help in that effort.

A labor-law professor at Ohio State University told The New York Times, “The essence of collective bargaining is when you can’t agree on terms of a contract, you have a dispute resolution mechanism, by strikes or perhaps binding arbitration. Here, you have none of that. That’s not collective bargaining. I’d call it collective begging. It’s a conversation that ends whenever an employer decides that it ends.”

Said the president of the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees: “[The legislation] undermines our basic American values by attacking the right of Ohio workers to have a voice on the job.””

In Wisconsin, similar legislation was passed without Democrats voting; and is now being challenged in state courts.

Other states, where right-wing extremists control the legislature — as in Ohio and Wisconsin — are also considering Ohio- and Wisconsin-like anti-union legislation.

To learn more of what is happening in your state, contact your state legislative director.