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Ohio Issue 2 Campaigns Heat Up, Seek Voter Attention.
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With less than two months till election day, the war over Issue 2 is just getting started, and itâ€™s expected to get expensive and nasty. Two key Senators have very different perspectives on what the law that created that issue would and would not do.
The dispute over the facts in Issue 2 goes back to the beginning of the battle over Senate Bill 5, the collective bargaining reform law that goes into effect if Issue 2 is approved. Republican Senate President Pro-Tem Keith Faber of Celina says Senate Bill 5 might have had a different result if Democrats had offered suggestions or amendments.
â€œItâ€™s real tough to say what should have been or shouldnâ€™t have been in the bill when the other side didnâ€™t come to the table, didnâ€™t negotiate â€“ and frankly, the response we kept hearing was â€˜kill the billâ€™.â€ Says Faber.
But Democratic Senator Joe Schiavoni of Youngstown says the bill was introduced in the Republican-dominated Senate on February 1 and signed into law March 30 â€“ and he says even if Republicans were willing to hear proposals for changes, thatâ€™s not a lot of time to look over a multi-hundred page bill that made significant changes to a 28 year old law.
â€œWell, we didnâ€™t even have a chance to go through it.” Says Schiavoni. “When we finally did, it was so â€“ it took away all collective bargaining rights away from public employees. So how do you amend that bill?â€
But Faber says the process to pass the stateâ€™s original collective bargaining law in 1983 was faster than the process to pass Senate Bill 5.
â€œWe had weeks of testimony before the committee. We had weeks that this was considered.
Kasler:â€˜Weeksâ€™ like one or two weeks, rather than five or six weeks?
Faber: It was plural. But again, in a Senate session where weâ€™re considering other matters, thatâ€™s a long time.â€
But Schiavoni says Faber and other Republicans should have expected the vitriolic reaction to the bill, which they got when thousands of angry protestors packed the Statehouse this winter.
â€œWhen youâ€™re messing with peopleâ€™s ability to make money and their rights that theyâ€™ve had, then theyâ€™re going to be upset.â€
Schiavoni and Faber canâ€™t even agree on the description of the underlying premise of the bill â€“ Faber says collective bargaining is still allowed for wages, hours, and terms and conditions of employment.
â€œIf thatâ€™s killing collective bargaining, then you have a very different definition of what is killing collective bargaining than what I do.â€
But Schiavoni says the new rule that says managementâ€™s last best offer stands when unions and management canâ€™t come to a deal â€“ with no third-party arbitrator to decide â€“ means that collective bargaining is done.
â€œHow are the workers ever going to win? Sen. Grendell came out and he said itâ€™s collective beginning. Sen. Seitz came out and said itâ€™s like flipping a two-headed coin and management has the heads every time.â€
Tim Grendell of northeast Ohio and Bill Seitz of Cincinnati are two of the six Republicans who voted against Senate Bill 5. The facts about the law that are being tossed about by both sides are being checked by journalists and activists for and against Issue 2. And Faber says one claim thatâ€™s not true is that lawmakers exempted themselves from Senate Bill 5â€™s provisions.
â€œWe pay between 15-18% for our health care, and if you get your pension through the state, you pay 10%. And so those are what weâ€™re asking government workers around Ohio to have the same deal that state legislators have.
Schiavoni: But thatâ€™s the smallest part of Senate Bill 5. And you just keep talking about the same part, but thatâ€™s the smallest part.
Faber: I would say thatâ€™s the major part. Thatâ€™s where the savings come in.
Schiavoni: Why didnâ€™t we just do that bill?
Faber: If you offered amendments, maybe we could have worked on that.â€
Faber talks up the pension, health care and merit pay provisions of the law â€“ which are the elements that got support from likely voters in the last Quinnipiac poll on Issue 2. But Issue 2 opponents, who boast of more than 1.3 million signatures to put it onto the ballot, also note that poll shows a majority of voters want to scrap the law.