Ohio Republicans may modify state worker union bill before vote

CLEVELAND, Ohio Fri Feb 25, 2011 5:48pm EST

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CLEVELAND, Ohio (Reuters) - An Ohio bill that would terminate collective bargaining rights for state workers likely will be softened by amendments before it comes to a vote next week, an Ohio Senate Democrat said on Friday.

"I believe it will definitely be less draconian, it will definitely be softer," said Joe Schiavoni.

Schiavoni, from Columbus, said while Senate Republicans had a 23-10 majority, they did not have enough votes to pass the bill in its current form as some Republicans have expressed concerns about it. Republicans plan to work over the weekend to come up with a substitute bill.

If there is a substitute bill, there could be a floor vote Wednesday, Schiavoni said.

He said he doesn't know what amendments the Republicans are considering, but doesn't see how completely destroying collective bargaining will help the state's finances.

Asked about the bill, Republican state Senator Karen Gillmor of Columbus said in an email that as a former member of the State Employees Relations Board, she would urge all her colleagues, including Senate President Thomas Niehaus, to sit down with union leaders and public employee representatives to find "common ground."

"I assure you that as the bill is being considered by the Senate, I will do everything in my power to remove what is bad and to leave in what is good," Gillmor said.

Wisconsin has been embroiled in protests for two weeks over a bill to limit collective bargaining for state workers. Republicans in Wisconsin who back the bill have not offered a compromise.

Columbus saw thousands of protesters against the Ohio bill on Tuesday, and protests have been held in other Ohio cities throughout the week, Schiavoni said.

Ohio's bill goes farther than Wisconsin's in some ways, said Republican Senate spokesman Jason Mauk.

While Wisconsin's bill allows collective bargaining on wages, up to the rate of inflation, for state workers, the Ohio bill prohibits collective bargaining for 42,000 state workers in addition to 19,500 workers in the state's university and college system.

This would end a right established in 1983 for Ohio's public-sector workers.

For local governments that bargain with unions representing some 300,000 workers including police, firefighters, and public school teachers, the bill removes health care and some other benefits from the negotiating process.

Like Wisconsin, Ohio has a new Republican governor and Republican majorities in both legislative houses.

(Writing by Mary Wisniewski; Reporting by Kim Palmer; Editing by Jerry Norton)

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Comments (5)
BayAreaBill1 wrote:
Ohio fools. You have the most power at this time to stomp on these greedy unions. Don’t let them off of the hook. Emasculate them while you have the power and the public support.

Feb 25, 2011 6:52pm EST  --  Report as abuse
BayAreaBill1 wrote:
Ohio Republican fools. Now is the time to stomp the unions and bring them back to equitable wage, benefit, and retirement levels with the private sector. Don’t weaken your stance. Reign in the unions while you have the chance.

It is vital that you do this now to prevent huge and unsupportable future payouts to these greedy union people, people who are gaming the system to their personal advantages with no regard to the rest of us.

Stomp them hard.

Feb 25, 2011 6:56pm EST  --  Report as abuse
Robert76 wrote:
Really BayAreaBill1????? Are you on dope or just plain to lazy to switch channels from the Fake News Network.

Those greedy Union workers you talk about contribute more to society in one day than the Multi-Millionaire CEO’s who jump from company to company looting the corporate treasuries will ever contribute.

How is someone making approx 40,000 to 50,000 a year a “Greedy Union Worker” when compared to the CEO’s making millions a year?

How are they greedy compared to the elected politicians accepting more than that in a day from their corporate sponsers?

America, wake up. This is an assault not just on Union Membership. The next things to go will be Worker Safety Laws, Minimum Wage Laws, Social Security, Medicare, etc. If these Politicians get their way, you too will only find work in a sweat shop making 25 cents a day and your kids will receive no education because these fool politicians and their supporters are destroying the one crucial building block to jobs….education

Feb 25, 2011 7:42pm EST  --  Report as abuse
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