Andy Gottesman / Multimedia editor
An estimated 8,500 people gathered outside the Statehouse on Tuesday. They were protesting Ohio Senate Bill 5, legislation that changes Ohio’s collective bargaining law for public employees.
Certainly, Ohio Republicans, especially Gov. John Kasich, have come under fire by union supporters who say this legislation is purely political and an attack on the middle class.
The dissent has perhaps become so heated, that many of the arguments made by the protesters, and many others on the left, aren’t exactly adding up.
One popular argument is that politics motivates the bill, because unions have historically supported democratic candidates in large numbers. Also, they say unions make up such a small portion of Ohio’s workforce that “attacking” them will do little or nothing to impact the state’s deficit problem.
I agree this bill alone will not be enough and that much more will have to be cut down the road. And they are right when citing the size of unions. In fact, less than 14 percent of Ohio workers belong to public sector unions.
But then, in the next breath, these same people claim that SB 5 will “destroy the middle class.” So, basically, we are to believe that Kasich is targeting a group so small that it cannot impact the state’s budget, but at the same time is large enough to destroy the entire middle class.
Something doesn’t compute. Spraying Round-Up on 14 percent of your yard doesn’t kill the whole thing.
But that analogy is harsh rhetoric compared to what the bill actually contains. The original bill was amended to allow negotiations of wages, hours and working conditions. Also, the state Office of Collective Bargaining estimated that Ohio would have saved $1.3 billion last year had SB 5 been in effect.
That is no drop in the bucket.
To argue that the bill is perfect would be futile. Nothing government ever does is perfect. But much of what the bill contains has support, not only in Ohio, but nationwide. Collective bargaining might be a hotly contested issue, but you will not convince me that the majority of people who otherwise support the bill will be completely turned off by it with the collective bargaining provision.
During the Obamacare debates, both sides were told that the bill was not flawless, but that it should be supported because of the many positive benefits it contained. I think the same could be said for SB 5.
Republicans in Ohio, like in most of the country, enjoyed overwhelming victories in November. Despite the left’s efforts to label Kasich “anti-union,” he nevertheless won the election. Ohioans wanted their government to make difficult decisions regarding the deficit. With an $8 billion hole, continuing to avoid the state’s problems would be irresponsible and likely fatal for Ohio.
Many more cuts must be made, and if Kasich and the Ohio Congress are unwilling to make them, then we should all protest. Until then, they have my support, because the difficult decisions facing our state have been put off long enough.