Thousands of Ohioans descended upon Columbus Tuesday, to protest the union-busting Senate Bill 5.
The bill — similar to pending Wisconsin legislation that sparked pandemonium in Madison — aims to eliminate negotiating rights for teachers, firefighters, police, corrections officers and other state workers. The measure would also do away with binding arbitration, prevent strikes by public employees and require employees to pay 20 percent of the cost of their health care. Gov. John Kasich is expected to sign S.B. 5 if it is approved by the legislature.
Not only would S.B. 5 crush labor, as an added bonus, it would also eliminate domestic partner benefits extended to LGBT public workers, including school and university employees.
Sec. 3101.01 of S.B. 5 defines marriage as:
Male persons of the age of 18 years and female persons of the age of 16 years, not nearer of kin than second cousins and not having a husband or wife living, may be joined in marriage. A marriage may only be entered into by one man and one woman.
Any marriage between persons of the same sex is against the strong public policy of this state. Any marriage between persons of the same sex shall have no legal force or effect in this state and, if attempted to be entered into in this state, is void ab initio and shall not be recognized by this state.
This definition of marriage sets the stage for S.B. 5 to nullify all state employee benefits extended to non-married couples:
The recognition or extension by the state of the specific statutory benefits of a legal marriage to non-marital relationships between persons of the same sex or different sexes is against the strong public policy of this state. Any public act, record or judicial proceeding of this state, as defined in section 9.82 of the Revised Code, that extends the specific statutory benefits of legal marriage to non-marital relationships between persons of the same sex or different sexes is void.
Protests started last week as 4,000 union employees packed preliminary hearings of the bill. Students and faculty gathered Monday at the University of Cincinnati, which won domestic partner benefits through collective bargaining, to show their outrage.
S.B. 5 is not a money-saving initiative; ousting unions and rescinding domestic partner benefits will not close the budget gap — it will only hurt Ohioans.
UPDATE: Columbus exploded yesterday when the Ohio Statehouse was closed to protesters. News sources estimate 5,000 to 20,000 people showed up to protest hearings on H.B. 5, but only 1,000 were allowed in the building. Rally organizers passed around fliers, urging the crowd to call Gov. Kasich and Senate President Tom Niehaus.
Kasich appeared on CNN Monday, to explain his position on the bill; he basically says everything he does is to better Ohio. Watch the interview below:
GOP lawmarkers have indicated S.B. 5 will likely be changed to allow workers to bargain for wages, but it would also prohibit all government employees from striking.