Monday, October 17, 2011

The Final Word on SB 5/Issue 2?

Well it won’t be long and the great debate will be over. We’re going to find out exactly what people think about SB 5 and ultimately what they think of John Kasich’s way of doing things. Here in Greenville we’ll know if we’re going to get a new school and how mad people really were at some of our school board members. I’ll be happy it’s over with for sure. On the other hand this has been a learning experience for a lot of people and I hope that some have learned from it, I certainly have.

SB 5/Issue 2. The major thing that I’ve learned is how much or I guess how little people know about a lot of things. First you can’t lump all unions into the same bucket. Unions are only as good as the people who are in them, the backing they get from their parent union, and the people they work for. I was told that all union people are thugs. In my working life, I belonged to two unions, the International Association of Fire Fighters while I was a firefighter here in Greenville and the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees when I worked for the State of Ohio.

I was on the committee that wrote the first contract for the Local IAFF and the City of Greenville. This was a learning experience. Even though there were over 500 union workers at Fram and Corning, we heard all the time that this wasn’t a union town. In 1970 we weren’t organized yet and were told by the city that there was no money for raises. In 1972 we were organized and recognized by the city as the bargaining agent for the firefighters. That year they had money for raises. We didn’t demand anything, we negotiated. We negotiated for ourselves. The City of Greenville, which had no money 2 years before gave us a raise and paid a company from Dayton a lot of money to do the negotiating, eventually paying them $100,000. At the time there were 100 city employees. Do the math. They could have given us a $1000 raise which would have been spent here and we all would have gone home.
At any rate, the next time you see a fire truck going down the streets see if there are any thugs in it.

After you try to explain things to people they say well I don’t like union organizers. Not sure that I do either, but that still isn’t the people who work and live in your community, police, fire, EMS, Teachers, City Maintenance. It’s not us. I’ve seen union organizers at retail establishments and it wasn’t pretty. As I said, that’s not us.
The state of Ohio has some problems and some of them are in the union, they have a whole lot more in supervision and in the hiring practices that put unqualified people in positions of authority when they are unclear what the people under them actually do. Do you think that wastes any money.

Here are the main points of SB5/Issue 2:
It allows an employee’s job performance to be considered when determining compensation, rather than just awarding automatic pay increases based only on an employee's length of service.
o Firefighters in Greenville already must take a written and a practical test before moving to the next pay range. The union asked for that a few years ago. There are 7 steps to top firefighter pay. Many cities have similar agreements with their employees. This guarantees the public of competent employees.
o We all think that this is a terrible attempt to make teachers go through a similar process. With a Master’s Degree in Education, one has to wonder what they would gain. If a teacher is deemed to be an ineffective teacher, there many ways to find this out and an equal amount of ways to deal with it. A simple clause in a union contract should handle it.
• It asks that government employees pay at least 15 percent of the cost of their health insurance premium. That's less than half of what private sector workers are currently paying.
o City employees in Greenville now pay 20% of their hospitalization. Will they get a 5% rebate? This was a negotiated benefit. In checking area fire departments all were paying more than 10% of their health care.
• It requires that government health care benefits apply equally to all government employees, whether they work in management or non-management positions. No special favors.
o This already happens here and most places. Not sure why this came up but it must be a problem in one part of the state so let’s punish everyone. If you were going to be promoted and lose all or some of your benefits, why would anyone want a promotion.
• It asks our government employees to pay their own share of a generous pension contribution, rather than forcing taxpayers to pay both the employee and employer shares.
o All public employees in the state of Ohio are mandated to belong to one of the pension funds: Police and Firemen’s Pension Fund, Public Employee’s Pension Fund, State Teachers Retirement Fund, School Employees Pension Fund, and the Highway Patrol Retirement System. This link takes you to a fact sheet on all of the funds. LINK. Most of the employee contribution in these funds is 10%. The problem that has Kasich in a snit is this:
 The only ones who don’t pay the 10% (they’ve not told you who they are) are those who have negotiated for the employer to pay the employee and employer contribution. This is called a pickup. This was never done here and in most cases where it was done, the employer offered it. You see what happens is the city would agree to pay both contributions, the employee and employer. So the employee doesn’t get a raise that year, but does get more spending money, everyone is happy. The problem arises the next time negotiations come up. Negotiating begins and the city offers a 3% raise. That 3% is figured on your base salary from three years ago because the “pick up” isn’t figured into the base pay. So now the cost of living has gone up 4% in the time that’s passed, the workers want that caught up, the city can’t afford to catch up and now everyone is mad. You’ve got pretty good employees around here, they’ve never fallen for that stunt and the city hasn’t either and never offered it.

• It keeps union bosses from protecting bad teachers and stops the outdated practice of laying off good teachers first just because they haven’t served long enough.
o As mentioned above, a simple clause in a union contract should fix that. Most union bosses know if one of the employees is sub-standard. Defending them makes the union look stupid. Avoid all of that by putting a clause in the contract that says what the expectation is of each and every employee. The old adage, last hired, first fired would apply.
• Finally, it preserves collective bargaining for government employees, but it also returns some basic control of our schools and services to the taxpayers who fund them, not the union bosses who thrive on their mismanagement.
o This is a figment of someone’s imagination. What it is actually saying is this: There are some school boards, cities, counties out there which have given up some of their rights and we don’t’ think that’s right. So we’re going to have SB 5 here so that we can correct the problem that was created by someone’s ill thought-out bargaining process. No matter how bad you think unions are remember this. The very first clause in any labor contract shows exactly what Managements Rights are. If they lost some of those rights, they gave them away. This says we’ll just allow any dimwit to be elected and when that person gives the farm away, SB 5 will get it back. That works doesn’t it?
John Kasich’s mistake: It would appear that he doesn’t know what the word negotiate means. From all indications, he is pretty set on what he feels is best for Ohio. He did balance the budget because he had to, it’s the law, not magic. In doing so, all of the problems trickled down to local government. How about we get some of the industry back that left Ohio? Unfortunately, none of the money trickled down here with the problems. You see, when there are lots of people here working, they pay taxes and when they pay taxes, each political subdivision has enough money to run its business and provide to the taxpayers the services they’ve become accustomed to. That, my friends, is the only thing that is going to fix this problem. Here in Darke County our budget is where it is because we had a lot of industry here and a low unemployment rate for years. IT’S GONE! Unfortunately our bills are not gone, they are the same. We are running a budget built on an economy from 20 years ago.
There are good union people and there are a few bad union people. Guess what? There are good politicians and there are a few bad ones. That’s just the way it is. It’s our job to sort that out. It can’t be done without the facts. SB 5 just isn’t the way to go, its bad legislation brought about by some well-meaning people who just don’t understand all the facts. Vote your conscious on Issue 2, but not until you have all the facts! Because, is not a reason.
There are now around 350,000 union workers in the state of Ohio. The petition to repeal Senate Bill 5, which has now become Issue 2 was signed by 1.3 million people. That tells me that not just firefighters, police officers and teachers think it’s bad legislation. There are two things that need to be done about the issue. The first is VOTE NO on Issue 2. The second one is to write your representative and tell them that you can see where there could be some problems and they need to figure out a reasonable way to fix the problem.

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