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Ohio and Wisconsin move to limit collective bargaining

February 15, 2011

Ohio and Wisconsin, two heavily unionized states awash in red ink, are about to make some major changes to the laws that govern public employees. The legislatures in both states are considing measures that would significantly change collective bargaining rights for state workers in an effort to find budget savings.

Public employee unions have successfully used collective bargaining to obtain higher wages, guarantee jobs, and more generous benefits, including for healthcare and pensions, for their members. However, some feel that collective bargaining has been abused, extracts high costs on the state and taxpayers, and is increasingly irrelevant given other laws that govern the workplace. In Ohio, for example, a report by the Buckeye Institute shows that state employees earn more than private sector employees in 85 of the state's 88 counties. In fact, public employees unions have used collective bargaining to guarantee wage increases for government workers even as the private sector lost jobs. Since 2000, Ohio has lost 612,700 private sector jobs, but the state lost a net of only 1,600 government jobs.

Today and Thursday, the Ohio Senate is hearing testimony on Senate Bill 5, authored by Senator Jones, which would eliminate collective bargaining for state workers in Ohio. In Wisconsin, Governor Scott Walker is proposing in his budget to limit collective bargaining for state workers (except police and firefighters) to the issue of wages. Additionally, Walker is proposing to require “government workers to contribute 5.8 percent of their pay to their pensions, much more than now; and requiring state employees to pay at least 12.6 percent of health care premiums (most pay about 6 percent now).”

Walker says he is doing this because the state is broke and it’s time to pay up. This year, Wisconsin faces a budget gap of $137 million and a deficit worth several billion dollars over the next few years. If Walker can’t save money through reducing the cost of government employees, he fears he may have to lay off about 6,000 state workers or eliminate Medicaid altogether.

With states like Ohio and Wisconsin facing serious fiscal challenges in the months ahead, it doesn't make much sense to continue to keep the hands of governors and legislatures tied when they negotiate with government workers. Failing to change collective bargaining laws could leave the states forced to make extremely painful choices that no one wants to contemplate.


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Submitted by exerxes at: March 14, 2011
Change the law! Federal employee unions cannot go strike to get what they want, yet they survive and live decently.

Submitted by exerxes at: March 14, 2011
The unions have driven costs so high that many industries have left the USA. The unions today represent more public sector employees than private sector employees.

Submitted by mike at: March 8, 2011
Get a life get a clue. Why don,t you study why the Wagner Act of 1935 was put in place. Today with the largest seperation of income in history, shrinking union membership,and a lack of middle class we are going through a poor economy go figure. Although the Wagner Act does not include government employees it should. Union members use less government assistance and save money because of their collective barining such as health care and pensions.The greed of government and certain employers are the ones holding the tax payers hostage!!

Submitted by get a life at: February 23, 2011
Suzi-cue Get a clue. The world still moves on without the union. Guess what they have firefighters, police officers, EMT etc in the 'right-to-work' and they are just as dedicated and educated as you..dare I say maybe even more so. They may understand that the rest of us pay your salary, benefits while paying for our own family. Its high time unions stop holding taxpayers hostage!

Submitted by suzi-cue at: February 23, 2011
I am so sick of always having to defend the Unions. You know what? Go bust up the unions and see where you will be the next time we have a ice and snow storm. Example: Your on your way to work and you slide into a telephone pole in front of your house. It arcs and the electric line starts your house on fire. It is so bad that everyone in your entire burb loses power for several days. When you get no fire dept. with EMT's and no electrician and linemen to fix the lines and the poles and you get yourself to the hospital with no union nursing staff or support staff to help you and there is no union staff to clean bedpans, prep OR rooms for the ER. I want you to lie back in your cold ER room because there are no union mechanical hospital workers to run the boilers. I want you to call your State Rep to come and fix your G-D Damned problems, because NO ONE goes through the intense training that Union Workers go through before they are qualified to do their jobs!!!! None of them really get paid enough the way it is and you want to take MORE away from them??? Shame on you!!! I'm a retired teacher who worked with Autistic children who were severely emotionally impaired and they made more sense then the congress!