If you have followed the news lately in the central Ohio area, you cannot hide from the stories about senate bill 5. On radio and TV, we are hearing the advertisements run almost at every commercial break, either for or against the repeal of the law. There were protests at the State Capital building while it was being voted on. While shopping at the grocery store you can’t help but to notice a sea of bumper stickers for or against SB5. When you hear the news, about 95% of the stories ultimately mention or allude to union labor and “rights” to collectively bargain for state employee’s. But to just mention unions or labor, is a little dis-ingenuous of the news media. Ohio has a larger problem that is at hand, and has been at hand for a long time. Ohio is broke. As a state we have operated on borrowed money. Ohio has a 8 billion dollar budget gap. The whole debate revolves around dollars and representative style government. Ohio has a provision in its constitution that if you gather enough valid signatures from all 88 counties you can have a voted for and signed law, repealed. Now, this begs the question, why? Well this provision is a safe guard against the people getting something they really didn’t vote for, loose cannon governors. Governors who’s same political party has a majority in the house and senate and agendas that do not match the wishes of the population of the state. You essentially have dual systems of governments, representative republican style and direct democratic rule.
This issue touches many family’s in Ohio. My wife and I have had some spirited discussions about SB5. You see we are a couple “unequally yoked” politically right now. Normally we are both fairly conservative but on this issue we disagree. We both held our nose and voted for John McCain last election. You see; my wife works in the public sector, and she has a part-time private sector job, and I work in the private sector. I have a slightly more conservative view of SB5 and my wife has a conservative view of SB5 but doesn’t like the fact that it’s going to directly affect our finances negatively. We have viewed the issue from all sides, and had many discussions. One of the things that really upset my wife is the fact that she hasn’t had a raise in 5 years, and her “great” union has conceded benefits when negotiating the last two contracts. Now many would say “oh that poor little state worker”. But the cynicism would be mis-placed. Let me explain why, my wifes quota of accounts to examine, balance, and update is 250 per 8 hour day. My wife examines 750-2500 accounts per 8 hour day. So needless to say she works very hard for her money. In the last quarter she worked, she was shown production numbers by her supervisor that read as follows: employee A examined 6600 documents, employee B examined 1700 documents and my wife examined 22,000 documents. Now, because of staff cutbacks and employees that were not replaced when they retired or quit, this production level is kept this high at all times. So when my wife hears she is being rewarded with a pay reduction for busting her rump, she’s let down, to say the least! I look at the situation this way, I am against unionization altogether. I believe they are communistic in nature, and that goes for government employee’s or private sector. I believe they support division of the populus that labors. It sets one set of workers above another, to me that just doesn’t represent equality. One issue we have talked about is the merit pay part of the new law. We both do slightly agree on this, but with one caveat, the dreaded office politics. While we agree you should be reviewed and rewarded on work performance and receive compensation on those merits, we disagree whether that would be reviewed fairly and impartially by the supervisors in charge of performing the work performance reviews. I believe they would be done professionally, but my wife is a little more of a realist. She believes that office politics may skew employee’s reviews, therefore resulting in a lower raise.
I heard on the radio today a small blurb by the head of Innovation Ohio, which is a progressive think tank, complain about the politicians reducing the pay of state workers by asking them to contribute more toward their insurance and pension payments but the politicians do not have to abide by the same law. Now if this is found to be the case I stand with this man, I don’t support that action either, but remember political organizations make political statements. Private sector employee’s pay about 30% -50% toward their health insurance costs annually and 90%-100% toward their retirement, these numbers represent a huge gap. Either way, if you are for or against SB5, you have a chance this November to have your voice heard, so get out and vote!