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Following in Wisconsin’s footsteps, Ohio lawmakers have passed a bill limiting collective bargaining for public-sector workers.The bill cleared the state’s Republican-controlled legislature Wednesday amid heated protests at the state Capitol, the Cleveland Plain Dealer reports. Republican Gov. John Kasich is expected to sign the bill, possibly by the end of the week.
Democrats and unions pledged to fight the bill at the ballot box this November. If opponents of the bill can gather the 230,000+ signatures needed for a referendum within 90 days of Kasich signing the bill, the law cannot take effect until after the vote.
The legislation would limit public-sector union negotiations to wages, hours and working conditions, as well as ban public worker strikes and binding arbitration. The bill also requires government workers to pay at least 15% of their health-care benefits and replaces automatic pay raises with merit-based salary adjustments.
Amendments added to the bill Wednesday would even curtail union power further, the Columbus Dispatch reports. One adjustment would end the “fair share” practice that allows public-sector unions to require non-union members to pay dues. Another prohibits payroll deductions for political action committees.
While Wisconsin’s statehouse sleepovers and truant lawmakers have captured the nation’s attention, Ohio’s collective bargaining legislation – which affects about 350,000 workers – is likely much more significant. As Reuters points out, Ohio has the sixth-largest number of public workers of the states (about twice as many as Wisconsin). The state’s manufacturing base also makes it a harbinger for unions nationwide.