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From the Archives: The Fight Against S.B. 5 — Sherrod Brown backs repeal of SB 5 in speech to FOP

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From the Archives: The Fight Against S.B. 5 — Sherrod Brown backs repeal of SB 5 in speech to FOP

In 2011, Ohio Republicans passed a bill gutting the rights of public employees to collectively bargain. It threatened the wages, pensions, and working conditions of thousands of middle-class Ohioans. It jeopardized the teachers, police officers, firefighters, and other public workers who collectively bargain to ensure good wages and safe working conditions.

When it comes to a choice between workers and special interests, Sherrod picks workers every time. Today, we’re taking a look back at July 2011, when Sherrod joined his fellow Ohioans in opposition to Senate Bill 5 and signed a petition that put repeal of the law on the ballot for Ohio voters.

Thanks to the tireless efforts of labor leaders, activists, and workers from across Ohio, 82 out of Ohio’s 88 counties voted to repeal the law—a major rebuke to the wealthy special interests seeking to undermine workers’ rights in our state.

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Sherrod Brown backs repeal of SB 5 in speech to FOP

The Canton Repository, July 18, 2011

U.S. Sen. Sherrod Brown told members of the Fraternal Order of Police union that a “pretty small group of radicals” is attacking the collective bargaining abilities of public employees in Ohio and other parts of the country.

Brown, speaking Monday morning at the FOP’s annual statewide meeting at the Memorial Civic Center, said that his senatorial office cannot be involved in the fight against Ohio Senate Bill 5. But he offered his personal support to help repeal the law through a referendum issue expected to be on a statewide ballot in the November election.

Brown told the audience of police officers from across the state that he can also help the effort to fight Senate Bill 5 through his campaign.

The senator, focusing on Senate Bill 5 and speaking for roughly 15 minutes, delivered the keynote address at the Fraternal Order of Police of Ohio’s 77th annual convention. About 600 officers were expected to attend the convention. Events continue today.

“What astounds me is the hostility I see in this state” for public employees, including state workers, teachers, police and firefighters,” said Brown, D-Avon.

In Ohio, public workers are under attack by “a pretty small group of radicals that don’t believe in the values that I think so many of us believe in,” he said, referring to collective bargaining.

SIGNATURES GATHERED

An anti-Senate Bill 5 coalition, We Are Ohio, has gathered nearly 1.3 million signatures throughout the state in an effort to put the new collective bargaining law up for a vote.

The issue will go on the ballot if roughly 231,000 of the signatures submitted recently to the Ohio Secretary of State are verified as registered voters. The number represents 6 percent of the people who voted for governor last year.

Senate Bill 5 limits the collective bargaining abilities of public employees. The law prohibits strikes by public employees, eliminates seniority in deciding layoffs, allows city councils rather than third-party arbitrators to impose contracts for police officers and firefighters and requires public workers to pay at least 15 percent of health insurance premiums.

State legislators who backed the law, as well as Gov. John Kasich, say the changes will help local governments better control costs. Building a Better Ohio is a statewide coalition “created to promote a reform agenda for leading Ohio’s economic recovery,” according to the group’s website.

The organization says it’s leading the campaign to uphold Senate Bill 5. The website says that unions “want to stand in the way of our efforts to control spending by reining in the excessive government labor contracts that have created an unfair and unsustainable burden on Ohio’s middle class taxpayers.”

Meanwhile, critics of Senate Bill 5 say it’s an attack on the working and middle classes. Brown said he expects the pro-Senate Bill 5 campaign to be heavily funded, referring to a “right-wing, conservative anti-union” sentiment.

“BETTER COMMUNITY”

Collective bargaining has been effective in Ohio, Brown said, allowing for compromise between public employees and government officials.

Collective bargaining affects more than wages, health care and retirement benefits, he said. For example, police officers have used the bargaining process to get access to safety equipment such as bulletproof vests, Brown said.

“You’re bargaining for a better community,” he said, referring to police, firefighters, teachers, librarians and mental health workers.

“It’s about you, it’s about taxpayers and it’s about (the) community,” he said.