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Local Mayors Explain Opposition to Senate Bill 5

The mayors who took part in We Are Ohio’s press conference think the bill won’t save cities money and will discourage people from pursuing public service.

Middleburg Heights Mayor Gary Starr doesn’t believe that Senate bill 5 would save his city money, and he thinks that without its repeal, the city will lose the ability to attract highly qualified employees.

“It’s not just a monetary problem,” Starr said during a press conference in Middleburg Heights on Wednesday morning.

Starr and Berea’s mayor, Cyril Kleem, were at the conference in support of We Are Ohio, an anti-Senate bill 5 activist group that is campaigning against Issue 2. If Issue 2 passes, will go into effect, restricting what unions are able to discuss in negotiations. One of the benefits of the bill is that it is supposed to be a way for local governments to save money, but not everyone agrees.

Starr and Kleem are two of those local exceptions. Starr said that he thinks the bill would tilt power to local governments, and he wants to “keep it in balance.”

“After all, the process works best when everybody has the ability to have their voices heard. It is not only fair, but insures that our streets are safe, our children are provided a superb education and public employees remain accountable,” he said.

Starr and Kleem were the only mayors in attendance at Wednesday's conference, but according to We Are Ohio, nearly a dozen local mayors have come out against Senate bill 5. Six who weren’t at the press conference provided letters of support to We Are Ohio. That includes Cleveland Mayor Frank G. Jackson and . passed in March that explained its city’s opposition to the bill.

Starr said that he thinks the changes that would follow Senate bill 5’s enactment would lead to layoffs, cuts in benefits and, overall, fewer people wanting to go into public service. If a city wants highly qualified employees, it has to pay competitive wages and benefits, he said.

And the belief that those in public service don’t contribute to their benefits or pensions is mistaken, Starr said, adding that in his city, employees already pay 10 percent of pension costs.

“There is nothing reasonable about Senate bill 5. It takes away the rights and the voices of the hardworking Ohioans who serve loyally our state and local governments,” Starr said.

Ed Kent October 14, 2011 at 12:41 PM
So, are you saying you don't have a problem with the section in SB5 that states public unions can't do what you said they don't do anyhow and that you agree with the law in that they can't use dues to pay for PACTS or any other political agenda without individual, per case member consent? And for those who say all public unions already contribute the amount the law calls for, I imagine you don't have a problem with that part of the law either? So, it's just certain other parts you are against, just not all of it, is that correct?
Robin Anderson October 14, 2011 at 03:10 PM
Is this the same section of SB-5, Ed, that seeks to relieve the public employers from their obligation of handling the payroll deduction for union dues, if any? As far back as 1998, if not longer, the members of AFSCME Local 153 made any political contributions through a payroll deduction totally separate from their payroll deduction for union dues; this program, called P.E.O.P.L.E., I believe, is listed as a separate article of the bargaining unit agreement with the University and was freely negotiated into the bargaining unit agreement by both parties involved.
Ed Kent October 14, 2011 at 03:49 PM
I was asking questions not trying to answer. I'm trying to understand what parts of the law that aren't already part of what public unions do and what part public unions are against in SB5.
Cynthea Sabolich October 14, 2011 at 07:44 PM
Whenever I see a Mayor or City Council person saying they are against having the power to serve their citizens, saying they want the union boss to decide the salary, benefits, safety force levels, and make promises that cannot be kept, I just say There is an elected official who is owned by the unions and not serving the people. Look at Central Falls Rhode Island. Look at Pritchard Alabama. Or how about Harrisburg PA? Debt crippled cities can't serve their citizens, can't pay their retirees, and ultimately they lay off the police and fire men who the unions claim they serve. But we keep the ones at the top of the scale and we keep the ones who are beyond running into buildings and then the cities collapse. I hope and pray this Mayor gets a job equal to his intellect and skill level, and maybe it will be a step above the drive through window.
Ohiofire October 15, 2011 at 08:25 PM
Ed... there wouldn't even be a referendum in the fall if wasn't for the fact that Issue2/SB5 took away binding arbitration. Taking it away weakens unions by 100%. Sure we can still negotiate some matters but with the final say always going to management the bill takes this too far. Reagan gave binding arbitration to unions in 83'. It has never been in favor of unions overall and it has stopped work stoppages. Tell me how it hasn't worked? This is just a ploy by the GOP to weaken unions because they are one of the top contributors to the democratic party. GOP plan right now is to weaken unions, change voting rights, and change voting districts.

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