Election Day is Tuesday and with it comes an end to the debate about Issue 2, a referendum to the vote on Senate Bill 5, but the implications of Election Day could reverberate through Ohio for a long time to come. There is no doubt Issue 2 is controversial. It is also a bit hard to understand why it would be relevant to a college student attending schools like Ohio State. We’ve all heard about the union-busting attempts with this bill and why it is an attack on workers. We’ve heard that it will save us money in a budget deficit. But somewhere lost in the debate is how this bill could affect our everyday lives as students and we need to be aware of it because it could have a big impact on us.
Issue 2 will end teacher tenure in Ohio, including here at OSU. For those that do not know, teacher tenure is essentially a lifetime contract with a school that cannot be terminated without just cause. A professor or teacher does not receive tenure status right away. Instead, they must work at a university or school for years, sometimes decades, and excel as an educator before they can achieve tenure status. Supporters of Issue 2 try to claim it is a permanent status for teachers and bad professors can just do whatever they want. That is a lie.
Teacher tenure is job security, especially for experts in their field, but they do have mechanisms to remove bad teachers. To remove a professor, a school must have just cause, which means the professor has to have deserved the removal. So why should we care if teachers lose tenure? Ever had a teacher who was fantastic, who inspired you, but was also older and more established than a young teacher right out of college? That teacher will require a higher paycheck and most likely will not be open to teaching multiple subjects, where the new teacher who is just looking for a job will do whatever they have to do for work. Removing teacher tenure means a university can fire the older, exceptional teacher and replace them with the less-experienced young teacher who is willing to be overworked for less pay.
Teacher tenure also protects the right of professors and teachers of performing independent research without fear of termination from their job. That research often makes these teachers experts in their fields of study, which in turn benefits us as students who will be in their classrooms. Removing teacher tenure removes the protection that teachers who perform research have from job termination.
Teacher tenure is not the only issue that will impact our lives should Issue 2 pass Tuesday. Here comes the part that does have to do with collective bargaining.
If Issue 2 passes, collective bargaining is essentially over and the right to strike for public employees becomes that much harder. So when a public union, say Columbus firefighters, want to negotiate a new contract with the government, they put forth a proposal. The government then puts forth a counter proposal. With collective bargaining, the government must negotiate with that union for money, safety, healthcare benefits. Should Issue 2 pass, collective bargaining dies and the government can tell our firefighters or police or nurses to take the counter proposal or leave it. Collective bargaining prevents Governor Kasich or any future governor or mayor from being able to slash operating budgets in half at will because they must negotiate with the unions. Collective bargaining prevents Governor Kasich or any future governor or mayor from lessening safety regulations or removing health benefits or paid vacations and sick time.
Issue 2 will end those protections, so if it passes, our police and firefighters and nurses can go to work with less pay, less benefits, and even faulty and cheaper equipment because collective bargaining will be gone and the government will be allowed to do whatever it wants. Just how long do you think it will be before Governor Kasich takes his big red pen and goes after the budgets of those protecting us every day should Issue 2 pass? And just how long do you think prospects for firefighting and police jobs will be interested in those jobs when they see an enemy in the statehouse?
For all the spin by the governor and the Republican legislators who tried to ram SB 5 down our throats about how this will save money, the reality is that is not their motivation. They hate collective bargaining because they hate how it gives power to unions to keep government honest in their dealings with the unions. Governor Kasich, like other Republican governors who were elected last year, is trying to break unions because they want to give the power to their friends in big business. They want to give power to the people that helped put them in power because at the end of the day, this is about politics and nothing more.
The largest block of support for Democratic candidates in terms of financial donations is labor unions. During last year’s midterm elections, Republicans received money through many corporate friends while the biggest friend to Democratic candidates were, you guessed it, labor unions. In SB 5, there is a provision that tries to prevent unions from being able to make political donations and the reason for that is because they donate by and large to Democratic candidates. Should Issue 2 pass on Tuesday the largest block of campaign donations to Democrats will be gone in Ohio and that is the true motivating factor for the people who wrote and support this law.
Senate Bill 5/ Issue 2 is not about saving the budget. If that was the case taxes would be raised on the wealthy and on all of us. If Kasich was concerned about our financial problems, he would bring regulations back that prevent corporations from greed. This isn’t about the budget … it’s about politics and making sure that Democrats do not have a chance in future elections.
Governor Kasich is waging partisan warfare on the party that will go after him when he runs for re-election and his doing so is putting our state in peril. Issue 2 is bad for students, it’s bad for teachers, and it’s bad for firefighters and police and nurses. The only people that Issue 2 is good for are the rich and their bought-and-paid-for politicians like Governor Kasich.