Student petition opposes Kasich’s anti-union stand

Caitlin Restelli

College Democrats vs. College Republicans on Bill 5

College Democrats:

The College Democrats are not participating in any protests or rallies taking place this week because “most of us just don’t have time this week with the CDA conference coming up this weekend,” said Chrissy Francisco, College Democrats president. “If the protests go on after this week, you can look forward to us participating in at least one of them.”

The organization is strongly opposed to the passing of the bill. Francisco said they are strong supporters of the middle class, and they feel that collective bargaining plays a vital role in hearing the working contract between workers and their employers.

“We don’t want to see the voice of the middle class being taken away,” Francisco said. “And we feel that that’s exactly what the Senate Bill No. 5 would accomplish.”

College Republicans:

The College Republicans won’t be protesting against the passing of Bill five because they are in favor of it.

“The Republican Party is traditionally a pro-business political party and its base is anti-union,” said Andrew Polz, College Republicans president.

Polz said unions fight for higher wages and benefits for the workers, but they usually do it at the expense of the efficiency of the business.

With collective bargaining, if one person gets a wage raise, then all employees get a wage raise, “so it’s not based upon merit, per say, and that’s one of the main reasons why Republicans don’t like that,” Polz said.

In a little over a week, a Kent State senior’s petition against Senate Bill 5 received more than 11 times as many signatures as he was hoping to achieve.

Mark Miller, senior justice studies major, created an online petition last Monday to stop the anti-collective bargaining bill from passing through the Ohio Senate. His goal to acquire 500 signatures was met by the second day. At the time of printing, the petition had acquired 5512 signatures.

If passed, Senate Bill 5 will significantly affect the ability of state and local public workers to negotiate terms of their employment through collective bargaining.

“This affects our professors because we are a state university,” Miller said. “By eliminating collective bargaining, it totally screws them over.”

Collective bargaining allows unions and employers to discuss hours, wages and working conditions and decide what is best for both parties.

Miller read articles about Bill 5 early last week. After learning about the aftermath the bill would have if it passed, he turned to a website to create the petition.

The petition is targeting Gov. John Kasich and the Ohio Senate. Miller said the signatures are comprised of 97 to 98 percent Ohioans.

When signing the petition, people are asked to provide their residency. For every signature, an e-mail is sent to Governor Kasich, and for Ohioans, an e-mail is sent to their district representative as well as neighboring districts’ representatives.

Miller said his personal connection to the bill is his two grandfathers and father. All three were involved in unions at one point or another.

“It’s something I feel strongly about,” Miller said.

If the bill is passed through the Senate committee, it will move to the Ohio Senate floor for discussion and a vote. According to the Columbus Dispatch, the vote has not been scheduled.

Pamela Grimm, chair of the department of marketing of the College of Business Administration, said the bill will not affect her, but she was in a union in the past, and she is sure she will be in the future.

“I am stunned that someone would even propose it,” Grimm said. “I believe that people should have the right to organize and bargaining collectively.”

If passed, Senate Bill 5 will remove health insurance from collective bargaining, no longer make length of service the key factor when deciding layoffs and allow employers to hire permanent replacement workers during strikes, among many other changes listed on the petition.

By allowing employers to hire permanent replacements, Miller said, “They’re basically allowed to hire, for a lack of a better word, ‘scabs’ to permanently replace these people and probably put them on a lower wage and give them little to no benefits.”

Miller said more quality teachers are needed, and thinks this is going to drive teachers out of the state.

Miller said he encourages people to pay attention to the bill, especially education majors who want to work in Ohio.

Tabitha Pearson, senior human development/family studies major, signed the petition because it could greatly affect her, as well as her home school district in Ashtabula.

“I can’t technically sit for a social worker’s license,” Pearson said. “But I can get employed by the state, and it can affect me.”

Pearson said her hometown teachers are already in a financial struggle, and many times they will use money out of their salaries to pay for classroom items.

“If collective bargaining stops then they can get lower salaries and they can’t help as much,” Pearson said. “It really irritates me because I’m pro-education.”

Grimm, being a former member of the union, said she sees this as a power move for the government to try to seize an opportunity when times are tough to get rid of collective bargaining and to further reduce union rights.

Miller is encouraging people to make an initiative to do more than simply sign the petition. He posted contact information for state senators and Kasich. Miller wants people to get connected to their state senator.

If the bill passes through the committee and Ohio Senate floor, Miller plans to find the next step to fight it and try to place it on the ballot to let people vote on it.

Many people who signed the petition are teachers, or students worried about their teachers, and most of the general consensus seems to be that they feel it’s an attack on Ohio’s working and middle class, Miller said.

Contact Caitlin Restelli at [email protected].