Today I read this Columbus Dispatch article about the latest chapter in the saga of Ohio SB 5. Apparently, now they are talking about not eliminating state workers’ bargaining rights completely, but they could only bargain for wages, and SB 5 would now “prohibit all public workers from striking.” Again, I’m often unclear on which groups they are referring to when they talk about this bill, since part of it covers “state government workers” and some of it covers “local government workers”. But I guess the use of the word “all” should be pretty clear.
I’m not exactly clear on how this would actually affect workers at my library. We already have the following article in effect in our collecting bargaining agreement:
ARTICLE 57: NO STRIKE-NO LOCKOUT
A. During the term of the Agreement, there shall be no lockout, no strike, no sympathy strike, no concerted action in failing to report to duty, no failure to report to duty, no willful absence from a bargaining unit member’s position, no stoppage of work, no slow down or absence in whole or part from the full, faithful and proper performance of duties of employment. Any employee violating the provisions of this Article may be disciplined.
B. The Union and the Library agree that they shall at all times cooperate to see that operations are continued in a normal manner and shall actively discourage and endeavor to prevent or terminate any violations of the Article. In the event of any violation of this Article, the Union agrees it will immediately take all affirmative steps with the employees involved to correct the violation and to bring about an immediate resumption of the operations of the Dayton Metro Library.
C. The no strike provisions of this Article shall not apply to any interim negotiations conducted in accordance with any provision of this Agreement. With respect to such negotiations, employees shall have the right to strike in accordance with Chapter 4117 of the Ohio Revised Code.
Maybe this new revision to SB 5 would remove even the limited “right to strike” discussed in Article 57, paragraph C? I really don’t know. (Wouldn’t it be nice if these legal-ese things were written in plain English?)
In any event, I have always thought the interplay between the fact that we bother having a union and the fact that Article 57 even exists…was a little strange. Let me be clear: I’m not saying that I want to strike or necessarily that I think we “should” have the right to strike or anything like that. I’m just saying, I always thought that striking was the main recourse that unions were supposed to have: you force everyone to be in a union; if conditions become “intolerable” (in the union’s eyes), the union strikes; this shuts down the organization and is supposed to force a negotiation.
Again, let me be clear: I’m not saying that public workers should be allowed to do that. But I have always thought it was strange that a place would bother to have a union but that it would be one unable to strike.
In the article I referenced above, Ohio Senate minority leader Capri Cafaro, D-Hubbard, called the changes to SB 5 “window dressing” and elaborated further: “You can’t sort of half do (collective bargaining). You can’t say, ‘You can collective bargain but, oh by the way, you can’t strike’.” That’s kind of what I was thinking. But then again, what do I know?