Ohio Republicans want a compromise with unions on collective bargaining

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Thursday, August 18, 2011 at 6:07 pm

Ohio’s Republican legislative leaders and governor want a compromise with the state’s public sector unions in an effort to prevent the repeal via ballot initiative of a new collective bargaining law. Gov. John Kasich joined House Speaker William Batchelder and Senate President Tom Niehaus in a letter asking the unions to support a compromise bill on the condition that the issue would not be on the ballot in November.

In response, union leaders have rejected any compromise short of repealing the bill. The president of the Ohio Fraternal Order of Police told the Dayton Daily News, “Absolutely, we are willing to go to the table but we are asking that they repeal the bill first.”

Speaker Batchelder said he’d be willing to recall the Legislature to repeal the law if it prevented the acrimony of a fight over a public referendum.

And that is exactly what the unions are demanding in response.

Before talks begin, lawmakers must repeal the entire bill, said We Are Ohio campaign manager A.J. Stokes in a letter to Kasich, House Speaker William Batchelder, R-Medina, and Senate President Tom Niehaus, R-New Richmond.

The three Republican leaders on Wednesday invited union leaders associated with We Are Ohio to come to the table and work out a compromise for pulling the referendum on Senate Bill 5 off the Nov. 8 statewide ballot. The referendum is slated to be Issue 2 on the ballot.

“Due to the complexity of the bill and our responsibility to the 1.3 million Ohioans who want to repeal it, We Are Ohio strongly believes a full repeal of Senate Bill 5 must occur prior to any meeting,” Stokes wrote. Meanwhile, House Minority Leader Armond Budish, D-Beachwood, is urging legislative leaders to call lawmakers into session next week to repeal the bill. Senate Bill 5, which Kasich signed into law in March, bans strikes by public employees, requires workers to pay at least 15 percent of their health care costs and all of their pension contribution rates, eliminates binding arbitration for safety forces and restricts collective bargaining rights for more than 350,000 public workers.

SB 5, a law passed in the legislative session that followed a Republican takeover of the State House and the defeat of incumbent Democratic Gov. Ted Strickland by Kasich in the November 2010 election, affects public sector workers in numerous ways. These include a ban on striking, a requirement that workers pay for 15 percent of their health care benefits, and the curtailing of collective bargaining rights.

A July 20 Quinnipiac poll showed that 56 percent of Ohio voters plan on voting to repeal the collective bargaining bill, suggesting that the unions would be in a strong position at the bargaining table. That same poll had Kasich’s approval rating at only 35 percent.

Categories & Tags: Labor| | | |

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