SB5 about stripping rights not budget cuts

Published 10:39 am Tuesday, April 5, 2011

I am writing concerning the passage of Ohio SB5, and am wondering if the general public is aware that, despite what has appeared in the media, its provisions affect so much more than the right to strike or how much public employees contribute to retirement or health care.

As usual, voters are not being told the whole story.

This bill smothers the voices of educators, police and firefighters in matters that directly affect your safety and the quality of the education of your children. It does away with basic civil rights for hundreds of thousands of Ohioans that all Americans take for granted.

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For example, one section reads, “Public employees will be banned from speaking to their elected representatives during negotiations.”

What? Any lobbyist or special interest group with a dollar in their pocket has welcome and easy access to elected representatives, and suddenly hundreds of thousands of Ohioans are forbidden this access by law?

Unbelievable, but true.

Didn’t we fight the Revolutionary War for the right to be represented and to have equal access to these representatives?

And what of these “negotiations”? We are assured in the press that public employees will still be able to “negotiate” salary under the new law, yet there is a provision in it that says employers may “implement their last best offer at any time during the negotiations.”

This law forbids strikes, so public employees have no recourse but to accept.

How on earth can that be considered “negotiation?”

Under this law, a college professor cannot be part of a union and have a seat on any committee, a career killer for a person in that field. A policeman or woman cannot hold a rank above sergeant and belong to a union. How are any of these provisions intended to help balance Ohio’s budget?

Balancing the budget, everyone paying their fair share, are handy hooks on which to hang what appears to be, nationwide, a much more sinister agenda.

For educators, this bill will wipe away the hard won gains of 30 years.

Teachers will once again be totally at the mercy and whim of local board members who may fire a teacher because they feel she was too strict with their child, she has the wrong politics, or simply because she holds a job a member’s sister-in-law would like to have.

It would be lovely to believe that local school boards would consider only the best interests of children, would seek to retain the very best teachers and be discriminating in who they hire, but anyone who has been involved in local politics on any level knows better.

I am a retired teacher, and have always been personally, financially and politically conservative.

I am ashamed of the Republican Party for this fiasco, and will join the tens of thousands of Ohioans who became former Republicans when we go to the polls in the next election to help vote out those who supported this disastrous piece of legislation.

If you are not a public employee, nor in any union, you may feel this bill does not concern you. Taking away anyone’s basic civil rights, stilling anyone’s voice, negating thousands of legal contracts entered into in good faith all over Ohio, certainly does affect you, and sets an ugly precedent.

Who, or what, will be next?

Please contact your elected representative while you still can and let them know there will be a price to pay for this vote.

Candace Picklesimer