Ohio House likely to pass union-curb bill

COLUMBUS, Ohio, March 3 (UPI) -- Ohio's GOP-controlled House will likely make the state the first to strip public employees' collective-bargaining rights, labor and legislative officials said.

"We're expecting it to pass," Jason Perlman, a spokesman for the Ohio AFL-CIO, told The Wall Street Journal.


But he said, "We are hopeful those in the Ohio House will see this bill is nothing more than an attack on the middle class."

Ohio's Republican-controlled Senate voted 17-16 Wednesday to prohibit public-employee unions representing 400,000 state and local workers from bargaining over health benefits and pensions. The bill also eliminates the right to strike.

Six Republicans voted against the measure.

The House, which has a 59-40 Republican majority, is to hold hearings on the bill next week and will likely bring the measure to a vote by March 15, Speaker William Batchelder, a Republican, told The Columbus Dispatch.

"I think the bill has a good chance of passing. What form it will take I would have to say will be unclear," he said.

Republican Gov. John Kasich said Wednesday he appreciated "the courage and resolve members of the Senate have shown in working with me to get Ohio back on track."


"This is a major step forward in correcting the imbalance between taxpayers and the government unions that work for them," he said in a statement. "Our state, counties, cities and school districts need the flexibility to reduce their costs and better manage their workforces, and taxpayers deserve to be treated with more fairness."

Ohio Civil Servants Employees Association President Eddie Parks called the vote "unconscionable."

"We have been shut out, but we will not shut up," the Dispatch quoted him as saying. "We refuse to be silenced. The vote today will just mean our voices will be raised even louder tomorrow."

Democratic state lawmakers said they would take the measure to a ballot referendum this fall.

U.S. Labor Secretary Hilda Solis told Communications Workers of America activists in a conference call Wednesday night, "Some state leaders have gone too far."

"Budget sacrifices are one thing, but demanding workers give up their rights as union members is another," she said.

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