Ohio needs SB 5 to rein in unions

Ohio needs SB 5 to rein in unions

For some time now, The Vindi- cator has published letter after letter bemoaning the end of the world as we know it based upon the passing of Senate Bill 5. As if somehow, that single law is alone going to take the state down a dark path from which there is no return. Just what path do you think we are already on? There is no money — it cannot be said any clearer. It is not the spending policies of the current governor and General Assembly that left Ohio with an $8 billion budget deficit and no painless way to fix it.

With $4.15 gasoline, increased food prices, product shortages and high unemployment, just where do public-worker unions think the taxpayers are going to find the money to continue to pay for unsustainable levels of benefits? Even affluent areas like Canfield and Poland recently voted down new tax levies forcing those districts to curb spending. We the people are tapped out.

As with their counterparts in California, Wisconsin and Indiana, Ohio public-sector unions are protesting while not offering any viable solutions of their own. How about some facts instead of emotional reactions? SB 5 still allows unions to bargain for wages, working hours, safe working conditions and provides for the right to negotiate to ensure law enforcement has the proper safety equipment. Only benefits are affected, and guess what, we in the private sector pay into them already and at a higher percentage than what is being proposed. Decisions to fire or lay off an employee can no longer be based only on seniority — you actually need to look at job performance. You can no longer get a raise for just showing up. Disputed contracts can now be put on a ballot for voters who pay for them to decide. What about those union dues? SB 5 prohibits payroll deductions for political contributions without the written permission of the employee, and if employees don’t want to join a union for their job, they no longer have to pay “fair share” dues.

The Pew Center found that it will cost over $3.3 trillion to pay all current and retired public-sector benefits in Ohio. It is underfunded by about a $1 trillion, making Ohio the fifth worst state in the comparison. The road we are on is not sustainable.

The proposed referendum on SB 5 this November will have consequences. We can either get our financial house in order or continue on the existing path and end up no better than Detroit or California.

Dana Malatok-Hughes, Struthers

Religious display at City Hall

Recently, on a visit to Youngstown City Hall, I made a discovery that really struck me. I’ve never before noticed the very large granite monument of the Ten Commandments located inside the Phelps Street entrance. Having a religious symbol in a public building, where citizens of all religions and those of no religious affiliation bring their civic business, makes a mockery of the idea of separation of church and state. (It’s also unconstitutional.)

The insistence that this country began as a Christian nation is a lie that will not die. Most of the Founders were Deists. That most Americans are nominally Christian misses the point.

The Constitution, a secular document by which this nation is governed, calls for the prevention of “tyranny of the majority”, and has no mention of God. Freedom of conscience rules in the public sphere. Some will argue that the Commandments (or Decalogue) have various versions, and are part of other mainstream religions.

This isn’t logical either, because as we learn more about the human brain, we realize that the way we treat each other and govern ourselves comes from human values that would evolve with or without religion. Deep human connections are made through shared values.

Religions attempt to do this, but they often ultimately become divisive, separating us into groups with competing Gods and world views. Either we are a democratic republic or we are a theocracy; the two cannot both be right.

James Rogers Jr., Youngstown