From John Curry, October 30, 2011
Chillicothe Gazette, October 29, 2011
Editor, the Gazette:
I am urging the public to vote "no" on Issue 2, the issue that would repeal Senate Bill 5.
For 22 years, I worked as a consultant for the Ohio Education Association, helping school employees in Ross County and other counties bargain salaries, fringe benefits and working conditions. From 1975 through 1984, I worked under the "Ferguson Act," a piece of legislation that forbade public employees from striking. However, during that time, there still were many school strikes all over Ohio and even one in Ross County. Southern Ohio's strikes especially were long and painful, in places like Lawrence and Vinton counties and Logan.
From 1985 through 1997, when I retired, I worked with teachers under the new law. As backers predicted, negotiations with school boards across Ohio became peaceful. But it wasn't because teachers could now strike; it was because there was now a process of fairness and respect in bargaining. Some classifications of public employees could demand arbitration, and teachers were allowed to strike, but the truth was (and is) that no one wanted to strike. The 1984 law just encouraged an element of respect and fairness in working with the employees, who were the experts in what should go on in their work setting. Indeed, public employee strikes saw a huge decline, which still is true today.
Media reports often state that "negotiations would be limited or severely limited" under Senate Bill 5. You can read any summary of the law (available online) to see that it goes far beyond "limiting" bargaining. The definition of collective bargaining would go from a process in which both parties to the contract were responsible for a joint agreement to a process where the employer decides what is in that joint agreement. That is not true collective bargaining by anyone's definition. And there are no appeal procedures that can be done in cases of unfair treatment.
A "no" vote will protect your friends and neighbors, most of whom already are part of the struggling middle class, from another layer of repression that will not only hurt them, but hurt their buying power as they shop at local businesses. That hurts everyone in Ross County, not just public employees.
Respect and fairness are two principles that seem to be diminishing in our culture. By voting "no" on Issue 2, we still will have some resources to combat meanness, disrespect and greed that seem to be more and more the primary goals of life.
[No name given]