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Support SB 5 to Reform Collective Bargaining and Save Money for Taxpayers!
An Open Letter to the Ohio General Assembly
February 17, 2011
On behalf of the National Taxpayers Union’s 13,500 members in Ohio, I urge you to support Senate Bill 5 (SB 5), which would end collective bargaining for state employees.
There is no debate that Ohio faces serious fiscal challenges. The state must address an $8 billion deficit in the next budget. But the state does not have a revenue problem; rather, the cost of government is too high and unsustainable. To name just one disturbing example, the Department of Corrections reports that even if the legislature maintains department funding at 100 percent of current levels, it would still have to cut 339 positions and close prisons due to the expected increases in payroll costs during the next two years. In light of these serious challenges, Ohio must undertake equally serious reforms.
One such reform is SB 5, which would help address the rising burden of government by ending collective bargaining for state employees. By taking this approach, the state will have a freer hand and stronger position from which to negotiate more manageable salaries and benefits for state workers, which will save money for the taxpayers who foot the bill.
Collective bargaining for public employees was instituted in an era when workers did not enjoy legal protections, competitive salaries, or many benefits. Now, thanks to anti-discrimination, safety, and workplace environment regulations and laws, public employees have many safeguards against abuse. Moreover, many public employees now enjoy more job security and better wages than their counterparts in the private sector, through policies such as automatic step increases, defined benefit pension plans, and low health insurance premiums. The Buckeye Institute has found that employees in state agencies earn more than those at private firms in 85 of Ohio’s 88 counties. Additionally, while Ohio has lost a net of only 1,600 state workers since 2000, the state has shed 612,700 private sector jobs in areas such as manufacturing, services, and agriculture.
Given the state of Ohio’s budget and the difficult choices that lie ahead, the General Assembly cannot continue to let its hands be tied when it comes to negotiating salaries and benefits underwritten by taxpayers. Therefore, our members hope you will support SB 5.
CC: Governor John Kasich