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Report: Ohio public unions have agreed to over $1 billion in contract concessions since ’08

A recently released report (PDF) by Protecting Ohio’s Protectors found that since 2008, Ohio public employees have made contract concessions on the state and local level totaling over $1 billion, blunting talking points used by proponents of Senate Bill 5, the union-busting legislation that Ohio voters will have the chance to repeal on Nov. 8.

Gov. John Kasich, Republican lawmakers and Building a Better Ohio, the group spearheading the movement to ensure the law is not repealed, often claim that SB5 is necessary to rein in the runaway costs of public employees’ benefit and salary packages.

“This report shows what we have known all along, public employees are problem solvers,” said Mark Sanders, president of Ohio Association of Professional Firefighters, in a press release from anti-SB5 group We Are Ohio. “Firefighters all across the state have been more than willing to come to the table and make sacrifices to help keep their local communities safe.”

The largest concession came from public education unions, which saved local school districts at least $700 million in the 2010-11 school year, according to the report. Over 90 percent of the collective bargaining agreements that teachers and support staff have agreed to this year include wage freezes, a concession not factored into the report.

The report also found that two-thirds of teacher union contracts have increased employee insurance premiums or significantly changed their health plans. The resulting savings were often put back into educational opportunities for students.

Gov. Kasich has frequently tried to paint SB5 as a tool to force public employees to pay at least a 15-percent share for their health care plans. But the report found, on average, county and state employees already pay more than 15 percent.

State employees alone have contributed $350 million in savings through wage freezes, furlough days and increased health-care costs. Over 65 percent of public employee contracts included at least one year of wage freezes, furlough days, reduced compensation or some other means of saving on expenses.

“I know firsthand how willing police officers are to make sacrifices during tough economic times,” said Jay McDonald, president of the, according to the release. “I’m proud to stand with all public employees who continue to put the needs of their local communities ahead of their own.”

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