As most of you know, the petition drive to put SB 5 on the ballot for November is well underway. SB 5 has been signed into law by Gov. Kasich, but with enough signatures, we can get it on the ballot in November and vote to have it repealed. GTBS is actively participating in the circulation of petitions so that we can do our part to defeat this despicable attack on the bargaining rights of Ohio’s public employees. We Are Ohio is the coalition of Democrats, labor unions and concerned citizens who is working to make sure the requisite signatures are obtained for the referendum. They have a great website with good information about SB 5 and the ongoing activity to see it repealed in the fall.
Over the last several months, Governor Kasich has used numerous tactics to make SB 5 seem like a good thing for Ohio. Since the bill was introduced, Kasich and the corporations who support him have blamed the state’s deficit and impending financial ruin on the living wages and fair benefits negotiated by the state and the unions who represent the state’s employees. But his latest stunt has truly added insult to injury. Last week, the Columbus Dispatch reported that Kasich ordered the Department of Administrative Services Director, Robert Blair, to send a letter to the state’s more than 57,000 employees, essentially explaining how SB5 will not interfere with a variety of their working conditions and benefits. Democrats argue that the letter is misleading. And as part of the grand scheme of things, it is likely crafted to dissuade state employees from actively participating in the push for the referendum. As usual, the letter doesn’t tell the whole story, not even to the people who are most harmed by SB 5.
And if it isn’t obvious that SB 5 is an all out attack on the middle class workers of Ohio, consider the companion storm brewing. Given the audacity of the administration thus far, it isn’t surprising that the attack on public sector rights to collectively bargaining isn’t enough for Kasich. The Columbus Dispatch reported today that Kasich is beginning his reforms to the state’s workers’ compensation system. The administration has announced a 4% rate cut for employers paying into the system. But this step is clearly being called a first step in what sounds like a much more involved overhaul. Though administration officials won’t commit to any concrete actions in the future, privatization is on everyone’s lips. We have already talked about the pitfalls of a privatized system, but the bottom line is that it will not benefit injured workers. It seems employers question how much it will benefit them too, as the Columbus Dispatch reports that the state’s employers are calling for cuts in benefits to injured workers. Either way, it is clear that the last concern for our governor is the survival of Ohio’s middle class families.
It is really up to labor unions, workers, disabled individuals, and the people who represent them to fight this fight. We hope you will educate yourselves on these issues, see through the propaganda, and take action by participating in the move to get SB 5 on the ballot in November. After all, we are Ohio!