With Senate Bill 5 scheduled for new hearings this week, is it too optimistic to expect bolder arguments from Republicans in the House of Representatives? Speaker Batchelder, in particular, tells it like it is – and on this subject, more frankness from conservative leaders is what Ohio needs. Why? Former NEA counsel Bob Chanin says it best:
Politically, the GOP is in a tight spot because the unions, Ohio Democratic Party, Socialist Party, and Communist Party form a unified bloc willing to chain itself to a taxpayer-subsidized tree in defense of a public worker’s “right” to have a percentage of his pay whisked into union bosses’ pockets and Democrat campaign coffers. And, as always, “conservatives” in the Ohio Senate are happy to side with the Democrats if it means a few minutes in front of a camera.
To balance the odds, here – at its fair market price – is my advice for the House:
- Exempt police, firefighters, and the highway patrol from most – or all – provisions of the bill
- End automated payroll deduction of union dues
Most of the squishes in the Senate mention police and fire as concerns – which is fair, considering that police and fire unions serve workers with far more demanding vocations. Payroll deduction of union dues is an indefensibly bad idea, and there’s no reason Ohio taxpayers should offer it. Since the unions haven’t paused in their routine of demanding increased taxes under the guise of “good jobs,” conservative leaders should continue to push for the most serious bill they can pass.
Government unions make a mint convincing workers they’d starve without collective bargaining, and make Ohio less competitive by demanding compensation taxpayers cannot afford. If the House incorporates my recommendations as enthusiastically as the Senate did, we’ll be in business!
Background: Startling Numbers
Researching government unions after I first noticed shenanigans from a union candidate last year, the simplicity of the problem was shocking: public unions work against the taxpayers. Union bosses ignore spending trends, the average Ohioan’s tax burden, and proof that big-government policies drive citizens away. Look at the numbers, and it’s tough to conclude Ohio’s government unions care about anything besides their own power. Consider AFSCME pay:
- Joseph Rugola, OAPSE Executive Director: $216,939
- Gary Martin, OAPSE Associate Director: $200,163
- Charles Roginski, OAPSE Regional Director: $164,239
- John Lyall, AFSCME Council 8 President: $155,482
- Andy Douglas, OCSEA Executive Director: $151,392
That’s only the top five. Ohio’s three largest AFSCME affiliates spent 31%, 32%, and 41% as much on member benefits as they spent on union pay in 2009. The Ohio Education Association may be even worse:
- 117 union employees paid more than $100,000
- 12 union employees paid more than $150,000
- Executive Director Larry Wicks paid $208,469
- Executive Director Dennis Reardon paid $202,997
In 2009, the OEA – a group that gets agitated about “the children” when you start to talk about limiting their clout – spent less than 36% as much on member benefits as on union pay.