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
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,
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