Tag Archives: public employee unions

Gov. Kaisch and Senator Brown’s Battle for Ohio Taxpayer Money

Govenor Kaisch has decided to drop out of the National Governor’s Association (NGA), according to the Columbus Dispatch. Kaisch wants to save Ohio the $176,000 annual dues. Moreover, he claims the costs are greater than the benefits. Of course, the NGA’s recent report that spot lighted some of Kaisch’s budget balancing cuts as among the biggest in the nation might influenced his decision just a little bit.

While Gov. Kaisch is trying to save the state money, Senator Sherrod Brown want to increase the cost of government in Ohio. Brown is seeking donation to campaign agianst Ohio newly revised public employee collective bargaining law known as Sentate Bill 5. It’s understandable why Senator Brown is stumping against SB5. If he stuck to just making federal laws, his collective baragaing union voters would likely vote for someone else the next election.

Readers might have guessed that this blogger favors SB5. Saving taxpayers money is a good thing. Reformation that benefits non-union workers and taxpayers is a good thing too. Even better is local and state representatives enabled to represent the best interest of their community taxpayers rather than being hamstrung by rigid collective bargaining law that favor the public unions. And inspite of the growing number of public employees, the majority of Ohio workers are not members of any union.

If memory serves, Governor Kaisch signed SB5 into law.

Ohio’s Public Union Collective Bargaining Reform (SB 5) Issue

If you drove down Dayton Avenue last Sunday, you may have noticed the traffic in and out of the Fraternal Order of Police parking lot. You may have also noticed the little sign inviting the public to sign the union-initiated referendum petition against Ohio Senate Bill 5. This is the recently passed law forbidding public employees from striking and limiting collective bargaining.

Notice, the bill does not end collective bargaining. Rather, it places considerable restrictions on the procedures and content of public union bargains. It also includes limits on employee benefits such paid sick leave, accrued vacation days, and the percentage of employer contribution to employee health care. The new law even prohibits public employers from paying employee pension plan contributions.

Offensive to members of NEA is the end of mandatory time off as sick days and the end of tenured contracts. The new law requires school boards to provide the specific number of paid sick days thus ending mandatory time off. Except for teachers with existing tenured contracts, the law ends continuing contracts.

In addition to reductions of benefits and certain perks, the new law will make public employees earn increased salaries. That is, the SB 5 makes employee pay based on merit not union seniority, time of service, or statutory pay scales. To unions, that is probably the most grievous evil of all.

SB 5 provides two additional benefits for taxpayers: public employers are now able to modify an existing bargaining agreement when such is in fiscal emergency or fiscal watch, and the new law prohibits a bargaining agreement from limiting a public employer’s ability to privatize operations.

It appears public union collective bargaining reform (SB5) law is meant to bring public employee pay and benefits in-line with the public sector. By doing so, the cost of government will be reduced.

Whether or not public employee unions get the required signatures to place the new law on the November ballot, the next reform on the public agenda should be the hierarchical reduction of government spending and subsequent taxation.

See a complete analysis of SB 5 at http://www.lsc.state.oh.us/analyses129/s0005-ps-129.pdf

How Union Busting Could Effect Xenia Community Schools

The so-called “union busting” efforts by state officials is a blessing in disguise. The fiscal conundrum faced by governors and state representatives has forced all of them to deal with public unions one way of another. In states like Wyoming, the Democrat governor convinced the union to cut pay and benefits in order to maintain a growing economy. In Indiana, the Republican governor eliminated collective bargaining that enabled government to become more efficient, provide services more effectively, and increase merit-based pay to public employees. This means both methods of controlling public finances work.

In Ohio, Republican lawmakers are seeking to implement similar fiscal policies as Indiana.

Union employees, Ted Strickland and other democrats claim an end to collective bargaining will harm the middle-class. Mary McCleary of The Buckeye Institute refutes their claim. In a recent article, she wrote:

“Contrary to the rhetoric these folks are spouting, eliminating collective bargaining for public sector employees actually does the opposite. It helps the middle class and protects our vulnerable populations. As it currently stands when there is not enough money to pay for all government employees in the system, workers get laid off. They lose their jobs. If a collective bargaining agreement weren’t in place, jobs could be saved. Everyone could take a small pay cut, and everyone would keep their jobs. Furthermore, when government workers are laid off, services are necessarily cut. Think about our schools where teachers are let go and programs are cut. The students suffer and all because the unions won’t make concessions. Contrary to what has been said, collective bargaining for government employees actually hurts the middle class.”

Last week, a manufacturer’s sales rep shared his experience with unions. He was an autoworker who made it to the highest position in the AEU. He sat at the bargaining tables with corporate executives. He made the big bucks and yet he quit. Why? Because all it was about was getting the biggest pay for himself and the union bosses. Union workers were never a part of real deal.

How does any of this apply to Xenia Schools?

School officials claim they have a budget deficit of $5 million. In order to make ends meet, they have to close two schools and lay-off around 70 teachers. What if all union employees including administrators, teachers, and support staff accepted a temporary pay and benefit cut for say three years? After all, wages, salaries and benefits make up the largest part of the budget. Because the school budget is about $60 million, a 10% cut would reduce costs by about $5 million. That would save 70 teaching positions.

Of course, it might mess up the plan to close two schools in order to get the “Tobacco Money” for building new schools, which plan is wrong for Xenia. The plan eventually to close Spring Hill is no more necessary because of a high water table any more than at Tecumseh. Besides, rebuilding Spring Hill without a basement would solve the previous flooding problem. A number of other schools do not have basements either.

Actually, Xenia needs at least one more neighborhood elementary school, not two less. Xenia lawyers could challenge the Ohio School Facilities Commission future projections of school building enrollements and its minimum enrollement requirement in court.

As in previous posts, education research proves small neighborhood schools provide better interactive learning environments than larger ones. Because small schools facilitate greater personal interaction, teachers and students enjoy learning more and consequently are more productive. (See my series titled Xenia Community Schools Rebuilding Plan I, II, III)

This blogger has a graduate level education in secondary education.

How About Reducing Some Bureaucracy?

By Marc Kilmer

Ohio is only a few months into the new fiscal year and the state is already facing a budget deficit. On one side are the governor and some of his legislative allies, proposing to close the deficit by raising taxes. On the other side are some legislators who want to close the deficit by consolidating government services. The idea of raising taxes in order to keep afloat a bloated state bureaucracy should be a nonstarter, but many in Columbus are choosing bureaucrats over taxpayers in this fight.

First, we need to be clear about something — Governor Strickland’s tax proposal is a tax increase, pure and simple. He wants to raise tax rates that have been in place since January. It’s not a “postponement” of a scheduled tax cut; it’s an increase in tax rates that are already in place. The governor wants to call it something other than a tax hike since he has loudly opposed raising taxes in the past, but there’s no avoiding the simple fact that his plan increases the state’s current income tax rates.

The governor says the only alternative to this tax hike is to cut education spending. Legislators should welcome the opportunity to examine just how well the state is spending taxpayers’ money on educating students. Student spending has steadily risen over the years but there is no evidence students are getting a better education. If they were so inclined, the governor and legislators could work together to seek more effective ways to fund education. But this probably won’t happen.

A good alternative to the false choice of cutting taxes or reducing education spending is the proposal to consolidate state government agencies. This would merely eliminate some redundant state agencies and departments and move their functions to another area of the government. It would not cut any government services. The projected $1 billion in savings would come from the staff reductions and savings on rent, equipment, and supplies.

Public employee unions claim the state government is already going through an “unprecedented downsizing.” It’s hard to see how this is true. In 1998, the state had 174,000 full-time and part-time employees. In 2008 that number had swelled to over 187,000. State taxpayers fund the salaries and benefits for all these workers. If the business of state government can be accomplished just as well with fewer workers, then legislators of both parties should embrace that goal.

Some object to this consolidation measure on grounds that it would not produce the savings projected or that these savings would not happen quickly enough to affect the current deficit. There is probably merit in both these claims. However, the fundamental reason to consolidate state government is not the monetary savings it will produce, but the reduction in unnecessary government bureaucracy. This would be a good idea even if it produced no savings to taxpayers. The fact that it will certainly save some money (and do so quickly depending on when the restructuring begins) makes it a great idea.

Saving taxpayer money is more than a function of just trimming government spending. State policymakers need to rethink how the state and local governments spend taxpayers’ money, which may mean restructuring state government, ending public sector unionization, reducing taxing districts, and other similar steps. Only through fundamental reform of how state and local governments operate can Ohio restore its economic strength. This state government reorganization proposal is a good first step.

Marc Kilmer is a policy analyst with the Buckeye Institute for Public Policy Solutions, a research and educational institute located in Columbus, Ohio.