Opponents of Senate Bill 5, Ohio’s new collective bargaining bill, have submitted an astonishing 1.3 million signatures to put repeal of the law to a vote on this year’s November ballot.
Thousands of union supporters and other opponents marched through Columbus yesterday to deliver the signatures to the Secretary of State, according to the Columbus Dispatch. Although the signatures are still unverified, the number is more than five times what is required to qualify for a ballot referendum.
Senate Bill 5 — which severely limits collective bargaining rights for more than 350,000 public employees — has sharply divided the state since it was passed by the Ohio’s Republican state Legislature in March amid huge union protests.
Among its many provisions, the law requires public employees to pay at least 15% of their health care premiums and forbids local governments from paying any portion of this share. It also prohibits public workers from striking and bars unions from collecting fees from public workers who do not join.
Republican Gov. John Kasich continued to defend the bill Wednesday, telling the Youngstown Vindicator that repealing it would be a blow to local governments struggling under growing personnel costs.
It’s worth noting that Ohio’s state budget — which Kasich is expected to sign today — cuts municipal aid by $455 million. The Cleveland Plain Dealer notes that local governments will also lose money due to an accelerated phase out of $1.3 billion in business taxes.
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