Opinion: Senate Bill 5 for dummies

Cassandra Adams

Cassandra Adams

Cassandra Adams is an English and news journalism major and columnist for the Daily Kent Stater. Contact her at [email protected].

In a generation favoring apathy, it was refreshing to see a small group loudly protesting against Senate Bill 5, in the rain, last Wednesday.

If you are in the dark about politics, or have some trouble keeping up, a quick Google search or brief scan of any newspaper should recap.

Last Tuesday, Gov. John Kasich gave his State of the State address at the Ohio Statehouse. The speech is customarily delivered annually by the governor of each state, usually before both houses of state legislature, to appease his constitutional condition of letting legislators know what’s occurring with the state.

The controversy that has put the rain-coated protesters on the stairs of the M.A.C. Center and at the speech is opposition of Senate Bill 5.

If Senate Bill 5 passes, the Ohio Legislature will abolish collective bargaining.

What is collective bargaining and what does it mean for the public?

Collective bargaining is a negotiation between an employer and its employees to determine conditions of employment. It will repeal an Ohio law from 1983 and affect state workers by replacing collective bargaining with a merit-based system.

The bill has the potential to change the rights of education for the public, affect teachers, local police, fire contracts and public employees by limiting negotiations to wages, work hours and conditions. For example, teachers won’t be able to strike according to the recent changes in the bill, which originally preserved that right.

The mayor would also be able to simply tell workers what they are getting and could even cut wages to the current minimum wage law.

Opponents of this bill say it’s “union busting.” Some call it the “death of the middle class.”

Supporters of the bill say getting rid of collective bargaining would save money by inducing increased quality of work and incentive for raises.

In Madison, Wis. a few weeks ago, a bill was passed against collective bargaining — even after tens of thousands stood outside of Congress in protest. It seems Ohio has the potential to head down the same path.

I think that this bill, if passed, has the potential to do way more harm than good — sorry, Lefton (he supported Kasich in his address). While we should have a type of incentive-based system for motivation in employees, anything that banishes rights that have been ensured for decades raises red flags.

If we want to combat our apathetic generation, a call to action is in order — and not just about politics. I’m talking about taking a stand on seemingly everything instead of passively “waiting on the world to change,” in John Mayer’s words.

We must do the work it takes to educate ourselves on these types of topics and banish ignorance. With smart phones, it takes as much time to type a text as it takes to look up current events that could change our future.

What are your options if you have something to say on this bill? Contact your senator, and maybe make a difference.

Contact your senator at http://www.ohiosenate.gov/directory.html.