By Mark Munroe
To watch the false and misleading anti-Issue 2 TV ads, you would be left with the impression that fireman, fire victims and hospital patients will be dead on the streets if Issue 2 passes. The impressions created by the ads are wrong. An analysis by Politifact.com found two of these ads regarding staffing levels and other issues to be “mostly false.” Similar problems have been found with other anti-Issue 2 ads.
Nothing in Issue 2 prohibits safety unions from discussing staffing needs with safety administrators. Issue 2 simply allows staffing decisions to be made by fire chiefs, police commanders and school superintendents who are responsible for managing their departments while respecting the realities of community needs and budgets.
Public employees play a vital role in strong, effective government. We need quality people in government service; not at any cost, but at a cost that fairly reflects the needs of the citizens and the realities of the marketplace.
The common sense reforms of issue 2 are many. Public sector employees will have to pay at least 15 percent of the cost of their health insurance and a 10 percent contribution toward their own retirement program. The Vindicator recently reported that 71 percent of Mahoning County employees had all or part of their “employee contribution” toward retirement paid for by the taxpayer. Fairness? Hardly.
Collective bargaining will continue for hours, wages and working conditions. The right to bargain for safety equipment is guaranteed. Our elected officials and their representatives will have their traditional rights as managers restored. The difference is that no longer will an unelected, unaccountable arbitrator have the power to force a settlement onto a township, city, school board or union. The elected representatives of the people will be given back the responsibility to deal with public employees while respecting the wishes of taxpayers. Final settlement offers can no longer be shrouded in secrecy, but will be open for all to see. The threat of a public sector strike will be lifted. We saw first hand how the threat of a strike at YSU caused so much anxiety to thousands of innocent students who wanted nothing more than to plan for the next semester.
No longer will public employees have their money confiscated by unions to support issues they may not agree with. Instead, employees will have to sign an authorization to permit their money to be taken for union or political purposes. Reasonable? Of course.
One of the greatest gifts of issue 2 is that our best teachers will be rewarded for their contributions to learning. Raises will be based on merit, not just time in the seat. By controlling costs, school boards can avoid layoffs.
Even with SB5, Ohio public union members will have more collective bargaining rights than any federal government worker, and more than would have been granted by President Roosevelt, who said, “The process of collective bargaining, as usually understood, cannot be transplanted into the public service.”
Public sector employees enjoy higher wages, better benefits and job security, but contribute less for those benefits than workers in the private sector who are footing the bill. It’s time to restore fairness and common sense. A yes vote on issue 2 will strengthen Ohio, help governments manage scarce resources, and slow down the constant drain on the taxpayer.
Mark Munroe is vice-chairman of the Mahoning County Board of Elections who has been active in local GOP politics for over 30 years and is chairman of the Mahoning County Republican Party.