Senate Bill 5 Unfairly Attacks Middle Class

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A Senate Bill 5 rally in Westerville, Ohio, on March 15, 2011. With the recent passage of Senate Bill 5 we have witnessed the death of public collective bargaining in Ohio, and the stamping out of workers rights.(Photo: (file))
A Senate Bill 5 rally in Westerville, Ohio, on March 15, 2011. With the recent passage of Senate Bill 5 we have witnessed the death of public collective bargaining in Ohio, and the stamping out of workers rights.(Photo: (file))

When did our teachers, police officers, firefighters and other public employees become the super-villains of our time?

With the recent passage of Senate Bill 5 we have witnessed the death of public collective bargaining in Ohio, and the stamping out of workers rights. And why was this decision made? Supposedly to save money.

However, for the past two years, state and many local public employees have been required to take unpaid leave. State employee’s haven’t had a pay increase in three years. They’ve only had two increases in the last eight.

During SB 5 testimony, Upper Arlington city council member and local business owner David DeCapua, testified that unionized workers are overwhelming local government budgets and creating too great a tax burden on business owners and residents.

Not surprising to many though, DeCapua seems to think he is entitled to a different standard than everyone else.

During UA city council budget meetings, council member Debbie Johnson suggested that the seven person council give up their city paid benefits, which would save the city nearly $100,000 a year. In response, DeCapua, who takes advantage of the city benefits shot that idea down, not wanting to have to pay for his own health insurance once again.

Similarly, Gov. John Kasich makes speeches railing against public employees who he believes strong-armed these benefits out of taxpayers thru collective bargaining. At the same time Kasich, who is estimated to be worth millions, is enrolled in both the state healthcare and pension plan.

So what does a post-union world look like to these politicians? Conceptually it will look more like what has happened in private industry; where workers are routinely worked 60 to 80 hours a week, have minimal healthcare benefits and are required to figure out for themselves what to do if retirement ever comes for them. All the while, that marginal percentage of people at the top continue to make ever more money.

I suppose this is a cue from Kasich’s Lehman Brother’s days, when he received nearly half a million dollars in bonuses while the firm was imploding, helping to create the current national financial crisis.

In an attempt to lead by example, a bill was introduced by Ohio democrats to cut the legislature’s pay and benefits as well. Republican leader Rep. Louis Blessing has already stated he’ll vote against the bill because he believes he deserves every penny he’s being paid.

And sadly, throughout this debate reporters continue to find working class individuals to interview, complaining about their current work, pay and benefit situation in the private sector.

But instead of seeing unions as a way to stand united together; as a possible way to better their own lot in life, these downtrodden individuals are suggesting that public workers aren’t workers at all, but thieves undeserving of what was once the obtainable American dream. A reasonable work week to allow for family time, a fair salary and at the end of it all, the ability to retire — something that the DeCapuas, Kasichs and Blessings of the world are actively protecting for themselves — while they take it away from the rest of us.

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