SB 5 is an attack on labor rights

SB 5 is an attack on labor rights

Tony Ehreneich once stated: “Labor rights are as fundamental as human rights, and the job of a democratic country is to protect both.” Senate Bill 5 is an unfair and unsafe attack on the rights of hard working Ohioans. It is a bill that was quickly pushed through the Ohio Senate and House in March 2011. When two of the eight Republican senators on the Insurance, Commerce, and Labor Committee decided to join the four Democrats on the committee and oppose SB 5, one of those Republican senators (Bill Seitz) was replaced with Sen. Hite, one in favor of SB 5, by the Ohio Senate president, a Republican; thus, the committee vote was a 7-5 passage.

First responders — police, firefighters, and nurses — did not create the economic crisis in which our state finds itself. These are individuals who run toward or into a dangerous situation to keep others safe while those being protected are running from said danger. SB 5 will limit, on multiple levels, the ability of these responders to negotiate to continue to keep our communities safe.

Likewise, teachers and other public employees did not cause Ohio’s economic crisis. As a recently retired teacher of 38 years, I saw the teachers and classified workers in the district in which I taught take wage freezes and health-care concessions whenever necessary to help the district with financial needs. We have always paid a percentage of our salary for our retirement since we do not collect Social Security.

A recent study found Ohio public employees earn 6 percent less on a yearly basis than their peers in the private sector and earn 3.5 percent less on a hourly basis (Economic Policy Institute, Feb. 2011).

Public employees continually make sacrifices in communities in which they work. For example, state employees have taken a pay freeze five times in nine years. In the last contract, the state employees voluntarily made sacrifices that saved $250 million and an additional $100 million in health-care costs (We Are Ohio: Myth vs. Truth, Sept. 2011). Again, collective bargaining rights of public employees in the state of Ohio did not cause Ohio’s economic crisis, yet those rights are under attack.

If SB 5 goes forward and is not repealed, many jobs will be lost in both the public and private sector. I urge all of my fellow citizens to join me and my family as we vote no on Issue 2 in November to repeal an unfair and unsafe bill that will hurt everyone.

Sandra Webber, Girard