OH Passes Own Anti-Union Bill

OH Passes Own Anti-Union Bill

Following Wisconsin's lead, Ohio's Republican-controlled Legislature passed a bill last week curbing the power of public employee unions. The Ohio measure - SB 5 - actually goes further than the one in Wisconsin by not exempting police officers and firefighters from its provisions. 
 
As amended by the House last Tuesday, the bill bans automatic payroll deductions for union political committees and so-called "fair share fees" for non-union employees covered by union-bargained contracts, as well as prohibits strikes, bars unions from negotiating for benefits, does away with binding arbitration in contract disputes, and allows elected officials to choose their own contract offer over a union's when negotiations break down. 
 
Even some Republicans balked at a few of those provisions. Sen. Bill Seitz, who was behind the state's ban on same-sex marriage and rules limiting damages in civil cases, and was named "legislator of the year" by the conservative American Legislative Exchange Council in 2008, opposed applying the new restrictions to police and firefighters, who have "ultra-hazardous" jobs. He also said allowing local officials to choose their own contract terms was "the most incomprehensible and unfair thing I have ever heard of." 
 
Democrats conceded passage of the bill before the final vote and turned their attention toward a referendum campaign to overturn it in November. 
 
"We fought like hell," Rep. Robert Hagan (D) told a group of union supporters rallying against the bill at the Capitol last week. "We're taking this to the ballot. Are you with us?" 
 
Ohio Republican Party Chairman Kevin DeWine actually welcomes that idea, believing that a costly referendum campaign this year will only make it that much harder for unions to support Democratic candidates in 2012. 
 
"Any dollar that labor spends on something other than defeating a Republican candidate is a good thing," he said. "I like them having to spend their money twice." (WALL STREET JOURNAL, CLEVELAND PLAIN DEALER, USA TODAY) 

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