COLUMBUS, Ohio — The bargaining rights of public workers would be dramatically reduced and strikes banned under a bill narrowly passed by the Ohio Senate yesterday.
The GOP-backed measure that would restrict the collective bargaining rights of roughly 350,000 teachers, firefighters, police officers, and other public employees squeaked through the state Senate on a 17-16 vote. Six Republicans sided with Democrats against the measure.
Firefighters and teachers shouted “Shame!’’ in the chamber as the legislation was approved and moved on to the GOP-controlled House, where it is likely to receive strong support.
The bill is similar to the Republican-supported collective bargaining bill in the Wisconsin Legislature that has sparked national debate in its weakening of public employees’ ability to negotiate contracts — although there are differences between the two. Wisconsin’s bill exempts police and firefighters from the collective bargaining restrictions, while Ohio’s does not.
The Ohio bill would ban strikes by public workers and penalize those who participate in walkouts. Unionized workers could negotiate wages, hours, and certain work conditions — but not health care, sick time, or pension benefits. The legislation would also set up a new process to settle worker disputes, giving elected officials the final say in contract disagreements. Binding arbitration, which police officers and firefighters use to resolve contract disputes, would be eliminated.