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Politics is big in these parts, and we’ve got it covered. John Arthur Hutchison and other staff writers will offer their inside information on the events, big news and little moments of the local political scene in Lake, Geauga and eastern Cuyahoga counties.

Saturday, February 26, 2011

Collective bargaining battle under way

Ohio Senate Bill 5 is shaping up to be one of the most spirited pieces of legislation in recent state history.

The measure, sponsored by state Sen. Shannon Jones, R-Springboro, aims to prohibit state employees from collective bargaining.

It also would abolish salary schedules for public employees and instead require merit pay, among other changes, to the Collective Bargaining Law.

The bill comes at a time when state officials are trying to find ways to eliminate an estimated $8 billion or more budget shortfall.

Gov. John Kasich has expressed his support for the bill in concept, but he has also signaled that he might bring forward his own plan that could go even further by banning public employee strikes.

Reports from Columbus, including those from national media outlets, showed thousands of union employees, teachers, police and firefighters and others descended onto the state capital to let their presence be felt and voices be heard during opposition testimony for the bill at an Ohio Senate Insurance, Commerce and Labor Committee hearing. Among them was Tim Burga, president of the Ohio AFL-CIO.

“Workers and trade unions understand the state of our economy and the challenges confronting our public budgets at all levels,” Burga testified. “State and local employee unions are regularly working with government administrators and elected officials to find ways to be flexible and reduce costs to balance budgets while delivering needed services.

“As a result, pay freezes, cost pick-ups, benefit reductions and unpaid leave have been implemented at the state and local levels. Public employee unions have assured this Committee that they will continue to work collaboratively with government officials as we work together to find solutions to create private sector jobs that sustain our public budgets.”

As reported last week, state Sen. Tim Grendell, R-Chester Township, said he does not support the bill in its current form and believes the bill in general goes too far.

“When talking about labor situations, you need to have a balance,” Grendell said. “If problems with the current system are too costly to taxpayers and too favorable to employers we need to address those issues.

“As written, Senate Bill 5 essentially tips the balance in a way that eliminates any protections for people who work as public employees.”

Grendell said later that discussions have begun to encourage more flexibility on the bill.

Announcements and filings
Peter V. Wayman announced he will seek a fourth term for Madison Township trustee. Wayman cites the township’s ability to provide basic services of police, fire and roads during a rough economy while maintaining a good fiscal budget.

Wayman has filed petitions with the Lake County Elections Board. Stay tuned for future fundraiser details.

Kirtland Councilman Doug Davidson has filed petitions to run for mayor against incumbent Mark Tyler.

Former Euclid Councilwoman Charlene Mancuso has announced she is running for Euclid mayor. Mancuso served on Euclid Council from 2003 to April 2008.

A registered nurse, Mancuso says she has a track record of building consensus among disparate parties in her work with state and local government agencies.

Karen Kowall, candidate for Willoughby Municipal Court judge: 5:30 to 7:30 p.m. Thursday at Pine Ridge Country Club, Wickliffe. See Marisa Cornachio or Dana Lutz.

Lake Commissioner Daniel P. Troy: Mardi Gras Party, 5:30 to 7:30 p.m. March 8 at Holiday Inn Express LaMalfa Centre in Mentor. See Kip Molenaar.

Jamie Callender, candidate for Ohio Senate: Mardi Gras party from 6 to 8 p.m. March 8 at the Quail Hollow Inn in Concord Township. See Jamie or Heidi Callender.

Lake Commissioner Robert E. Aufuldish: St. Patrick’s Day celebration from 5 to 7:30 p.m. March 17 at Holiday Inn Express Hotel and Suites LaMalfa in Mentor. See Kathie Aufuldish-Freshour or Ernie Koenig.

Deadlines for information within this column are Thursdays at noon.

John Arthur Hutchison’s column appears Sundays in The News-Herald.
Twitter: @newsheraldjah

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Anonymous Anonymous said...

Sadly, this is the only opinion The News-Herald has published on Senate Bill 5.
States all across America are wading into sensitive areas - by force. What part of we are out of money don't the money-grubbing public employee unions not understand?
Collective bargaining is just part of a larger narrative about the solvency of government. There is no going back to the 1990s with government able to carry over huge unallocated balances. Every public entity must set basic priorities and not much else.
The public sector has been fairly insulated from the pain occurring in the private sector.
I also know the weak Republicans in the Ohio Senate who want to decrease the power of SB 5 will find themselves unemployed. Americans crave decisive leadership now and these elected officials aren't providing it.
If you've got an $8 billion shortfall, every idea must be considered to help local governments deal with what's coming. Collective bargaining is an albatross around the neck of the Rust Belt. Your residents are moving to Texas, Florida and elsewhere across the South.
Snap into reality, people. You aren't competing.

February 27, 2011 at 7:29 AM 

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