Ohio and Wisconsin, the two states that are controlled by Republicans have for the past few years wanted to control the collective bargaining rights of government workers and have been proposing anti-union agendas. The bill comes just a few weeks after the same bill that was passed by Republicans in Wisconsin. The Wisconsin bill had exempted the police officers as well as the firefighters. However the bill was put on hold by a court challenge.
The Ohio bill forbids government employees who are about 350, 000 from going on strike. According to the bill, the public labor organizations will no longer bargain for health care; negotiate pension benefits or even sick time. There is no more automatic pay rise and in its place, workers would now get salary increment on merit. On the other hand, unions are allowed to negotiate wages, however, they have no right to participate in strikes to force their ways.
Although none of the democrats voted for the bill, the speaker, Mr. William Batchelder, see the bill as a tool that would help the public overcome the unnecessary bills that they were paying in the past. According to him, taxpayers as well as the local government will now be able to control their budgets.
The passing of the bill was tougher than that witnessed in Wisconsin as there were shouts and heckles in both chambers as those opposed to the bill expressed their displeasure. In the house, the bill had been voted 53 against 44 while it passed narrowly in the senate with a 17-16 vote of endorsement of the bill (Epstein 17).
The bill passed by the Ohio Republican lawmakers, stands to benefit tax payers, the state and the nation. The bill will enable tax payers reduce the unnecessary bills they pay and will also help the state improve its ailing economic situation.
There have been debates not just in Ohio and Wisconsin, but in many states and countries concerning the need to control the bargaining rights of unions representing government workers. The debates have been in statehouses, among politicians and even among the general public. The need to curb collective bargaining is also being considered by the states of Kansas, Idaho, Indiana, and Tennessee. Generally, the idea has not been favored by the democrats and the union officials.
According to the Republicans who voted for the bill, they had the public interest and the interest of the nation at heart. They all argue that the bill is meant to protect the public and the nation. Looking at the bill critically and the reasons as to why it was crafted, every person in Ohio except for the beneficiaries of the fraudulent deals through the unions, should support the bill. Those protesting can only do so for a few days. Ohio’s statehouse demonstration only attracted about 8,500 protestors.
Making Economic recovery for the State and the nation
The bill was passed at a time when the nation and state is faced by serious economic challenges and debts. The state is experiencing a reduction in quality as well as service and people are not able to obtain the value for their money. It is therefore fortunate that a bill that seeks to reduce the cost of operations has been brought in place. Most Republican lawmakers say they supported the bill in order to help rebuild the state’s ailing economy.
Through this bill, the government is able to make cost savings and will be free to make flexible negotiations. Ohio’s governor, John Kasich says that in the past two years, $55.5 billion has been spent on lifting union protections. This, he says could be used to fill an $8 billion deficit in his budget (Epstein 21).
His GOP colleagues together with him feel that the bill would enable the local government make better more savings especially now that they are experiencing budget problems. Opponents of the bill argue that the new bill is likely to be manipulated so that a phrase is inserted to allow the public sector lay off older workers as it had earlier happened in the private sector.
However, what they do not realize is that the bill is not about workplace conditions. The public sector spending has become non-efficient and unsustainable. The bill aims to help the county, the state as well as the federal government to overcome the budget deficits. It also aims at relieving the tax payers from footing bills that they do not benefit from.
An opportunity to control the budget
Public-sector unions are known to manipulate the supply and demand of states and the nation as whole. They do not consider whether their demands are in the government’s priority or not and not give options as to where the money would come from. In Wisconsin the lawmakers had exempted the police and the firefighters; this was dangerous for their peaceful running of the government. I am proud that in Ohio, all the unions were banned from participating in any strike and collective bargaining.
Going by what has been experienced by other states, it was wise to include the police officers and the firefighters. In California for example, the California Correctional Peace Officers Association lobbied the Californian government to increase the prison facilities. The state had to build twenty prisons during 1980- 2000. The main aim of the CCPOA was to increase jobs for correctional officers as more prisons were built.
To ensure success in their quest to create more jobs for correctional officers, they pushed for the “three strikes” law in 1994 (Aaron 8). This made the prison population to increase enormously forcing the government to employ raise the number of guards and to expand the prisons.
Nobody would ever want Ohio being held at ransom again by the public-sector unions. By the words of the speaker, we are not ready to pay bills that are not properly planned for and are unnecessary. Any bill that would give the, tax payer, local government and the state power to control their budgets is highly welcomed.
Unions of public servants all over have had troubles that nobody would always want to tolerate. The practice of collective bargaining should not be permitted to continue in the public service. Even President Franklin Roosevelt who had supported the private sector unions acknowledged that government workers unions were troublesome (Drae 2). A strike by civil servants manifests in their intent to frustrate the operations of the government till their demands are met.
Roosevelt says that such actions by people who have sworn to support the course of paralyzing government operations is intolerable and unthinkable (Drae 2). George Meany, the first president of the AFL-CIO also believed that it was not possible to make collective bargain with the government (Goldberg 8).
The courts also agreed to Meany’s idea and outlined the actual problems that the public unions posed. Courts all over the nations had unanimously held that collective bargaining by the civil servants should be outlawed on the legal basis of sovereign immunity as well as unlawful delegation of government powers.
In 1943, a judge in a New York Supreme Court held that by tolerating or even recognizing any collection of civil servants as a labor organization is contrary and incoherent with the spirit of democracy as well as the principles upon which the government is founded (Drae 4).
It is ridiculous and dangerous to the public welfare when the same people employed by the state to provide vital services to the public including safety and security demand to determine the hours, wages as well as conditions for which they will perform the essential services.
To permit government workers to have the powers to check or as well as halt the functions of the same government which has employed them until their demands are met implies that the government admits that they have transferred the executive, judicial and legislative power to the unions (McCartin 8).
Public sector unions in Ohio and across the have even become more political. Whenever they want to advance their interests, they hand pick during elections somebody they know would protect their interests. They always elect politicians they are sure can act as their “managers” and “lawyers” during their contract negotiations. In essence, they handpick those who will represent them in the bargaining table (Denholm 37).
This means that other than the workers’ rights that they claim they are fighting for, they deny the people of Ohio and the nation the chance to choose leaders of their choice and leaders who have a greater vision for the state and for the nation. They always ensure that their opinions are respected by those they choose even if they may not be popular or even if they may not benefit the public who voted these politicians.
They even brag and threaten the government since they have the numbers and the ability to elect those they want in any leadership position and remove those they do not want in power, making the politicians in the government to easily give in to their demands.
Relieving the public of the financial burden
It is also ironical that while the public suffer under the burden of lost savings, increased food prices, increases gas and oil prices and reduced opportunities, the public-sector unions have chosen to hold on to the benefits they have accumulated over the past years (Denholm 46). The union officials have taken the public for a ride for a very long time as they earn huge salaries and other benefits from the unions. They also get favors from many quarters making their lives very comfortable.
It is even worse that the civil service management was not even willing to confront them without the support of the politicians. Confronting the unions with the politicians is like a slap on the face to the general public as the unions are the ones who made the politicians who they are. The politicians depend on the unions to be elected to the various public offices they hold implying that they can not, whatsoever be against their masters (Carnevale and Kearney 22).
The unions had not recognized the need to change their greedy ways and therefore by banning most of their activities, most subscribers will see the reality behind the existence of the unions and cut their links with the unions. The money subscribed by members only benefits the union leaders and not the members.
Finally, the bill should be a clear sign to the Obama administration and democrats that the general public is overburdened by bills that do not make a difference in their lives but instead serves the interests of a few people. The public-sector unions benefit from them in their campaigns and in enacting policies which are not compatible with what the public really want. It is majorly the democrats opposed to the bill and of course the union leaders who are the beneficiaries.
Out of the over 350, 000, only slightly above 8, 000 government workers came out to strike. Some of these rights in the constitution like the right to form a labor organization by the public servants are conservative ideas that were inserted into the constitution without putting in place the control measures and the limits of what they can negotiate.
The public union restrictions bill is a very important bill for the people of Ohio especially now that the state and the nation are experiencing economic difficulties. It serves to stop the financial complications and confusion brought about by the unions. It will enable the state reduce costs of its operations as it will no longer pay any ransom to the unions in form of compensation. It will also be able to control its budgets since the pressure from the public-sector unions to control the supply and demand of the state will no longer exist.
There will be no constant strikes in the streets as had been the case before meaning that the state will have a good environment for economic growth. Investors will not be afraid of the strong Ohio public-sector unions. The people of Ohio will also now have more power over their politicians as the unions expected to lose their numbers soon. This bill will therefore make Ohio more democratic and will give the public service a chance to improve their services and quality as more cost savings are made.
Aaron, Benjamin. Future of Collective Bargaining in the Public Sector: In Public Sector Bargaining. Industrial Relations Research Association Series, edited by Benjamin Aaron, Joseph R. Grodin, and James L. Stern, 292-315. Washington, D.C.: Bureau of National Affairs, 1979. Print.
Carnevale, David and Kearney, Richard. Labor Relations in the Public Sector (3rd edition). New York: Marcel Dekker, 2001. Print.
Denholm, David. Beyond Public Sector Unionism: A Better Way. Public Service Research Foundation. Vienna, Virginia: Public Service Research Foundation, 2001. Print.
Drae. The Trouble with Public Sector Unions. Of Buckley and Beatles. Web.
Epstein, Jennifer. Ohio OKs public union restrictions. Politico. 2011. Web.
Goldberg, John. Death Knell for public-sector unions long overdue. Tucson: Arizona Daily Star. 2011. Web.
McCartin, Joseph. Public Sector Unions V. Taxpayers: The Potent Revival of a long- Running Trope. Georgetown: Georgetown University, 2011 print.