Ohio public workers protest collective bargaining reform

Front view of the Ohio Statehouse in Columbus.

The Ohio Statehouse in Columbus was the battleground for a collective bargaining debate. (Photo Credit: CC BY-SA/Urban/Wikipedia)

According to Ohio Gov. John Kasich, reform of the state’s collective bargaining agreement is necessary. Yet this opinion has proven unpopular with the state’s public workers, reports Cleveland.com. At the Ohio Statehouse in Columbus, 1,800 workers were out in force Thursday to protest Senate Bill 5, which would take away state workers’ collective bargaining rights and alter certain key rights possessed by government employees.

Collective bargaining for proper working conditions

Struggles between labor and management have been ubiquitous throughout the history of commerce in the U.S. and other nations. Collective bargaining has enabled unionized workers to carve out set wage scales, hours, training, health precautions and much more. The collective bargaining agreement serves as a labor contract between an employer and one or more unions.

Class struggles in Ohio

Ohio Senate Bill 5, which is sponsored by Republican Senator Shannon Jones of Springboro, seeks to reform – union representatives would say “undo” – the provisions of a 27-year-old labor contract. Gov. Kasich and other Ohio Senate Republicans claim that declining state revenues make swift changes necessary if Ohio is to continue to deliver essential services to its taxpaying citizens in a complete and timely fashion.

Ohio public workers, state employees and labor leaders see things quite differently. In their view, Senate Bill 5 amounts to a frontal assault on unions and organized labor in general. As state unions have historically backed Democratic candidates with campaign funds, Ohio workers claim that Senate Bill 5 is a form of backlash from office Republicans. By stripping labor unions of funds and breaking them apart, negotiating power would vanish. Restricting pay and benefits could send more workers to short term lending organizations, as decreased purchasing power makes absorbing the shocks of surprise expenses more difficult.

The Tea Party supports collective bargaining

Testimony regarding Ohio Senate Bill 5 and collective bargaining was expected to continue into the late afternoon Thursday. In addition to Gov. Kasich, who is a vocal critic of Ohio’s collective bargaining law as it stands, numerous supporters of the bill will speak before the legislature. Two dozen opponents of Senate Bill 5 will also be given the floor.

As local public radio station WKSU reports, the 1,800-strong worker revolt against collective bargaining reform is the kind of populist uprising the Tea Party wants to be seen supporting. Thus, the Tea Party sent activists to the rally.

Sources

Collective bargaining Wikipedia entry

Cleveland.com

WKSU.org

Gov. John Kasich addresses Ohio’s collective bargaining controversy

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