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Following Wisconsin, Ohio Anti-Union Bill Signed Into Law

Tracy Bloom |
March 31, 2011 | 8:49 p.m. PDT

Executive Producer

Ohio Republican Gov. John Kasich on Thursday signed into a law an anti-union bill that may be even tougher on unions than the one passed in Wisconsin. The bill passed both the Ohio state Senate and Assembly on Wednesday without the support of one Democrat.

"(The bill) gives local governments and schools powerful tools to reduce their costs so they can refocus resources on key priorities like public safety and classroom instruction," Kasich said in a statement.

Perhaps the biggest difference is that the law in Ohio largely eliminated the collective-bargaining rights of law enforcement and firefighters--two groups which were not affected by the anti-union law in Wisconsin. Another major difference between the two laws is that Ohio's law allows city councils and school boards to impose their side’s final contract offer when the two sides are unable to reach an agreement.

In addition, the Ohio would also increase the amount of money public employees pay into their health insurance premiums by 15 percent, while also replacing automatic pay raises with pay increases based on merit and performance.

 "This bill ... does not cut anybody's salary ... does not take away anybody's pension ... does not destroy anybody's health care," Kasich said. "And anybody who's been out there saying that is just factually wrong."

Democrats in Ohio are hoping to have the law overturned through a referendum on the November ballot.

Reuters reported: "Ohio Democrats want to overturn the new law through a referendum on the November ballot. Under Ohio law, the measure does not take effect for 90 days. If opponents are able to secure the approximately 231,000 signatures needed to place a referendum on the ballot during the 90 days, the law will be on hold until the election in November."

"If the vote were held right now, the bill would be overturned," said Ohio State University political science professor Paul Beck. "The real question is will the intensity survive between now and November."

For the most part, the battle over the bill in Ohio faced fewer--and smaller--public demonstrations than ones in Wisconsin which drew nearly 100,000 protesters.

The New York Times reported: "Ohio political and union leaders say there were fewer protests than in Wisconsin because Governor Walker moved first, making him and Madison a lighting rod. Moreover, Madison has a famously liberal university and Wisconsin was the home of the progressive movement. Still, Ohio unions boast that their biggest rally in Columbus attracted 20,000, just a fraction of Madison’s weekly Saturday rallies.

Similar laws are being considered in other states, including Oklahoma and New Hampshire.



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