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Ohio legislature passes bill limiting state worker collective bargaining

The Ohio Senate [official website] on Thursday passed Senate Bill 5 [text, PDF], which alters Ohio labor law and restricts the collective bargaining abilities of unions for public sector workers. The bill was approved in the Senate by a vote of 17 to 16, shortly after a House vote of 53 to 44 [unofficial votes]. In February, the legislation was protested by 4,000 union members [The Plain Dealer report] at the Ohio capitol building marking the largest union-backed protest in over a decade. A summary of the bill [text] details that unions can only collectively bargain for wages and equipment for personal safety and that public employees cannot strike. Additionally, the bill allows a union to be decertified with a petition signed by 30 percent of members as opposed to the prior standard of 50 percent and requires most state employees to be paid based on performance. Furthermore, Senate Bill 5 creates a ban on nonunion members paying any part of union dues and takes away any benefits from seniority. The Ohio Democratic Party [advocacy website] and union leaders are attempting to create a public referendum to repeal the law [The Columbus Dispatch report]. To do this, they will need a petition with 230,000 signatories within 90 days of the bill being signed. Governor John Kasich [official website] is expected to sign the bill on Friday afternoon.

Ohio is the most recent in a string of anti-union laws sweeping the US. Yesterday, the New Hampshire House of Representatives [official website] passed an amendment to their current budget that would require public employees to make concessions automatically [AP report] or become at-will employees. Earlier this month Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker [official website] signed a bill [JURIST report] that limits the collective bargaining rights of public sector employees. The law is currently enjoined, but legislators have gone forward with publishing it [JURIST report], a step toward the law's enforcement, despite judicial concern. Indiana Democrats defeated an anti-union bill [Indiana Star report] by fleeing the state until the bill missed a procedural deadline. Legislation is pending in Nebraska [Daily Nebraskan report] to prohibit state employee collective bargaining and to dismantle the Commission of Industrial Relations (CIR) [official website], a non-partisan arbiter in state labor disputes. Measures limiting unions are also in committees in Michigan, Tennessee, and Florida.

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