Yes on Issue 2
On Nov. 8, Ohioans will go to the polls to vote on Issue 2, a referendum petition to decide whether the collective bargaining reforms contained in SB 5 will become Ohio law. A “yes” vote means the reforms will become law while a “no” vote will maintain the status quo.
Collective bargaining is most appropriately defined as the ability of non-exempt public employees -those whose compensation, benefits and pensions are paid for by taxpayers - to negotiate with the administrators of public entities, who are also on the public payroll. Only the taxpayers are not represented at the table. If the parties can’t agree a neutral arbitrator is brought in, which usually takes the middle position, thereby creating every incentive for unions to over-demand terms beyond what the public can afford. Such a process creates an inflated starting point for each new set of negotiations even as our governments spiral further into debt and taxpayers shoulder the burden.
One thing the fight over Issue 2 is not about is the citizens of the state of Ohio, despite such claims by both sides. If Issue 2 passes it will impact, not necessarily negatively, approximately 359,500 public employees. This represents 6.5 percent of Ohio’s workforce of 5.5 million. According to the Columbus Dispatch, there are more people in Ohio looking for work than will be affected by the passage of issue 2.
The reforms bring fiscal control and responsibility back to the elected officials responsible for spending taxpayer dollars, which, in turn, gives taxpayers a seat at the negotiation table. Under the current system, the spending of taxpayer dollars is mandated by statute without any regard for the economy, performance or needs of the community.
These reforms eliminate statutory pay increases; allow for merit-based promotion instead of seniority-based layoffs, reduce to 10 the number of statutory sick days enjoyed by public school teachers and require public employees to join the other 93.5% of the workforce and contribute to their own health insurance and pensions.
The reforms do NOT eliminate a public employee’s ability to bargain for wages, benefits, safety and other work conditions. Furthermore, they PROTECT the right of firefighters and police to bargain over safety needs.
Contrary to claims made by the Ohio Democratic Party Chairman in a letter asking for donations that reformers are “ready to throw the kitchen sink at the middle class,” these reforms protect middle class tax dollars and empower them to administer the operation of their government through their elected officials. If at the end of the contract negotiations, we don’t like the student-teacher ratio, the number of officers on the night shift, or the safety equipment of our fire fighters, we can demand improvement to those who are accountable to us, our elected officials.
Matt Dolan lives in Chagrin Falls. He is a former state representative and was a candidate in 2010 for Cuyahoga County Executive.