The State and its Unions
by Jason Hart
Cross-posted at The Buckeye Institute.
Why should the Ohio Senate revoke collective bargaining privileges from both state and local government workers, undoing rights created in 1983 by ORC 4117? The existing law starts from the flawed premise that elected officials and their appointees will protect the public interest in bargaining with the unions. Here’s 4117.20(A):
No person who is a member of the same local, state, national, or international organization as the employee organization with which the public employer is bargaining or who has an interest in the outcome of the bargaining, which interest is in conflict with the interest of the public employer, shall participate on behalf of the public employer in the collective bargaining process except that the person may, where entitled, vote on the ratification of an agreement.
Considering massive union campaign spending, every public official has an interest in the outcome of their office’s collective bargaining. Democrats know they’ve got a friend for life if they accede to union demands, and have no incentive to discourage non-union employees from unionizing. Republicans can hope to dampen opposition by giving the union some leeway.
Further, what need was met by the implementation of ORC 4117? Union bosses at the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees (AFSCME) and the Ohio Education Association (OEA) decry a lack of “workers’ rights,” hiding behind front groups like OneOhio Now in order to appear mainstream. But what reason do we have to believe non-union government workers would suffer unduly? If the AFSCME and OEA have evidence of hardship which supports their insistence on collective bargaining, I haven’t seen it.
Several things we do have evidence of: Ohio’s tax burden as a percentage of income has increased dramatically; Ohio has a massive public pension fund gap; Ohio General Revenue Fund expenditures have grown at a rate far exceeding inflation. Removing the extra layer of bureaucracy government unions represent is one step the General Assembly can take to begin correcting these problems.
Don’t take it from me! I’m a union-exempt higher education employee – and yet I’m happy with my position, happy with my pay, and happy to look elsewhere if either of those things change. Clearly, my very existence is an impossibility.