Ohio: ATR Supports Ending Collective Bargaining for State Employees
Today the Ohio Senate will begin debating SB 5, a bill sponsored by Sen. Shannon Jones that will eliminate the ability of state government employees to collectively bargain. With an $8 billion overspending problem driven largely by public sector unions' perpetual push for salary, wage, benefit and pension increases, this is an imperative first step toward restoring Ohio's fiscal sustainability.
It's no secret that Ohio has hemorrhaged jobs and population over the past decade. It is one of two states, along with New York, that will lose two Congressional seats in this round of decennial reapportionment. But where the private sector has declined, the government payroll has flourished. The Buckeye Institute has pointed out that state employees earn more than their private sector counterparts in 85 of Ohio's 88 counties. By scaling government pay back to the private sector average, Buckeye notes, the state can close $2.1 billion of its budget hole without raising taxes.
Unions around the state have flocked to Columbus to intimidate elected officials into opposing SB 5. But as Grover pointed out in a letter to the legislature today, they make emotional arguments devoid of logic and reality:
I know that you have been under considerable pressure and intimidation from union bosses across the state. Know that their emotional arguments do not reflect reality. Eliminating state teachers unions will not impede a child’s right to a sound education – it is the obligatory first step to ensuring quality education for all. Removing the ability of police and fire unions to secure unsustainable pension benefits will not compromise public safety – restoring these programs to sound fiscal footing will preserve public safety in Ohio for generations.
To read the entire letter, see below.
February 15, 2011
Today I write in fervent support of Senate Bill 5, which would eliminate collective bargaining for state employees. By shifting the balance of power from unions back to taxpayers, this bill represents the type of sweeping change imperative to Ohio’s economic resurgence.
Ohiocan no longer afford public sector unionization. Government employee compensation costs are the driving force behind the state’s $8 billion overspending problem. Unionization has effectively shielded the public sector from the economic downturn. Data compiled by the Buckeye Institute is harrowing: Over the past 20 years, state government has added 93,000 jobs, while Ohio’s private sector has added only 120,000. And state government employees live considerably larger: The median public employee earns 25 percent more than his or her private sector counterpart.
Public sector compensation must be brought in line with the private economy. But that cannot happen until government employees are stripped of their collective bargaining rights. I know that you have been under considerable pressure and intimidation from union bosses across the state. Know that their emotional arguments do not reflect reality. Eliminating state teachers unions will not impede a child’s right to a sound education – it is the obligatory first step to ensuring quality education for all. Removing the ability of police and fire unions to secure unsustainable pension benefits will not compromise public safety – restoring these programs to sound fiscal footing will preserve public safety in Ohio for generations.
I commend Sen. Shannon Jones for sponsoring SB 5. It reflects her understanding that Ohio voters and taxpayers are ready to engage in an adult conversation about the true size and scope of Ohio’s budget problems. Government unions are the most significant impediment to Ohio’s economic growth.
We do not wish to demonize or embarrass government employees. Many of them do important and diligent work in the name of public service. Teachers, fire fighters and police officers dedicate their lives to improving and protecting our civil society.
But that does not mean they should be empowered to hoodwink taxpayers in securing unreasonable and unaffordable compensation packages with little accountability to those footing the bill. And that is exactly what public sector unions have done for three decades. It’s time to restore Ohio to sound financial footing, and SB 5 is the first step.
If you have any questions regarding ATR’s support of SB 5, please contact Ohio state affairs manager Joshua Culling at firstname.lastname@example.org.
CC: The Honorable John Kasich