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h/t my buddy Jim Heath reporting for ONN

The Ohio legislature effectively screwed over 350,000 state employees today.  Police, firefighters, teachers, and other public employees will eventually feel the sting.  The Republican sponsored effort significantly weakens collective bargaining.  The state senate passed a bill by one vote.  Six Republicans sided with Democrats in voting against the measure.

Health care, sick leave, and pensions will now be dictated and not open to negotiations.  Strikes are banned.  Walkouts come with penalties.  Raises will be given through a merit system rather than on the basis of seniority.

Employees in states that prevent collective bargaining make an average of $3,000 less than union affiliated workers.

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50 thoughts on “Ohio Steamrolls Middle Class Working People

  1. At the risk of getting something heavy dropped on me (like a hydrogen bomb 😉 ), let me play devil’s advocate. Isn’t getting pay raises based on merit a lot fairer than simply increasing everybody’s pay regardless of performance? And (though I know better) how likely are massive cuts and sub-standard pay – wouldn’t free-market demand keep pay and benefits up within reason? Be kind – I want to hear others’ “shots” for shooting down GOP windbags. (And I feel like crud, but want to participate at whatever limited level I can.) 🙂

    • I think merit and seniority should factor in together personally. Have you ever seen a boss play favorites? Ass kissing too often passes as “merit.” That’s my experience.

  2. Koch Brothers have found another puppet to pull the strings, and tell the GOP governors, this is what you will do for us, and not for the citizens of your states.

    • 350,000 people affected. That means everyone knows someone in Ohio that’s getting the shaft. And what kind of handout will be going to the business interests. I bet the teachers and firefighters and police officers are funding these corporate handouts.

      • Interesting that even the Columbus Fox outlet went out of their way NOT to mention anything about axing the benefits for gays. Oh, and I know several people who were/are getting the shaft from Ohio BEFORE this popped up – not the least of which is yours truly….

      • And if you don’t like “Fang” (my older new avatar), check out Percy. Don’t you LOVE the monocle? Get me a top hat, I’ve got the cane, and I can be Mr. Peanut for Halloween. 😀

          • “Blueberry streudel? Hogan, you shouldn’t have!”

            But seriously….

            I think the bill hasn’t been passed-passed yet, and that it’s going before the other half of the Ohio state legislature. That said, I think the GOP has a sizeable majority in the other house.

          • “I know no-THING! NOTH-ing!” 😉
            I believe the bill goes to the Senate (State Senate), with something like a 59-41 GOP majority, if I remember earlier babblings correctly. I don’t recall anything about amendments or reconciliations. I’ll check the 10pm News (local Fox, sorry), and add whatever commentary they have then. I’ll be offline for a while, got to go face the chiropractor, and hope he can yank my arm back into the socket. Otherwise, I have a table saw I have to set up for a DIY amputation! (Seriously, it won’t help – it’s in front of the wingbone, and feels like somebody ran a bayonet through there. Don’t ask how I know what a bayonet feels like – I just do. And hatchets and axes, too – I had an interesting childhood!)

            • Oops! Sorry, Fang slipped out of his cage. I just got him stuffed back in. Hope he didn’t scare anybody!

  3. Sorry to get in late on this, but this is worth noting.

    To get SB5 through committee, the President of the Senate removed a fellow Republican (who was against the bill) from the committee and replaced him with someone for the bill. The removed senator was one of a handful of Republicans to vote against SB5 in the final vote.

    Meanwhile, I imagine this topic will reappear on the ballot as a referendum.

    BTW, the pay scale with steps is set by the state house …. AND, school boards and administrators will have a difficult time managing merit pay.

    And, let us not forget, that the school board GRANTS tenure to the teacher. Maybe they should be more selective!

    • Hi, Frank! 😀

      To get SB5 through committee, the President of the Senate removed a fellow Republican (who was against the bill) from the committee and replaced him with someone for the bill

      Is this cheating?

      • The report I saw was that the move is fine with Ohio procedures. But being fair and within the rules doesn’t mean it’s ethical.

        A friend of mine went to the state house earlier in the week. He’s a die-hard Dem, but he is also well read and reasonable. He spoke highly of the column written by Rep Seitz (who got tossed from the committee). Here’s the column.

        http://news.cincinnati.com/article/20110301/EDIT02/103020307/Collective-bargaining-reform-must-not-overreach

        Meanwhile, the same who complained about Speaker Pelosi’s bully pulpit are simply using the same tactic at the state level. 2010 elections are simply going to be interesting.

  4. House is such a trip.

    FYIs.
    A local editorial about SB 5. Keep in mind that CIncinnati is very Republican.
    http://news.cincinnati.com/apps/pbcs.dll/gallery?Avis=AB&Dato=20110303&Kategori=ENT02&Lopenr=103030804&Ref=PH

    Local articles about SB5 sponsor, Shannon Jones. (She’s from south of Dayton)
    http://www.cincinnati.com/search/results.html?cof=FORID%3A9&ie=UTF-8&web_search=false&cx=006127851596837413458%3Asr-5gi4kxko&q=Shannon+Jones&sa.x=0&sa.y=0&siteurl=news.cincinnati.com%2Farticle%2F20110303%2FEDIT01%2F103030341%2FA-shameful-performance-SB5%3Fodyssey%3Dmod|newswell|text|FRONTPAGE|p#1009

    Don’t know if you are George Clooney fan or not, but he has been in the city the past 3 weeks filming.
    http://news.cincinnati.com/apps/pbcs.dll/gallery?Avis=AB&Dato=20110303&Kategori=ENT02&Lopenr=103030804&Ref=PH

  5. Health care, sick leave, and pensions will now be dictated and not open to negotiations.

    This isn’t true.

    Employees will still be able to negotiate.

    Raises will be given through a merit system rather than on the basis of seniority.

    This is how it should be. Raises SHOULD be given to those folks that perform, right? You have mentioned that you have kids, right? Can you imagine a teacher of yours being given gainful employment only because they happen to have been teaching for 60 years? I mean, at some point, does actual ability count?

    • Pino,
      I’ve read a lot of rhetoric as yours here in Ohio, and I have NOT YET read one explanation of how teacher salaries will work. In the words of Frasier Crane, “I’m listening.”

      • I’ve read a lot of rhetoric as yours here in Ohio

        Hi angle,

        I’m not sure I engaged in rhetoric. I simply stated that benefits will not be unilaterally dictated without input from employees. The public union employees could still negotiate, just not within the context of collective bargaining.

        Then I mentioned that we should give raises to the teachers that perform the best. Not necessarily the teachers that are the oldest.

        I have NOT YET read one explanation of how teacher salaries will work. In the words of Frasier Crane, “I’m listening.”

        I would base teacher’s pay based on merit. The same way that most of the private world’s pay is based.

        For example, I manage teams of computer network engineers. We watch massive voice and data networks for other companies and fix ’em when they break. I know which of my folks are high performers, which are median performers and which are lower performers.

        At the end of each year I’m given a number, a %, that I can assign to each employee. For example, say that number is 3%. That means I’m able to hand out 3% raises to each employee. However, I’m free to take away that % from my lower performers and apply it to my higher performers. So, I may assign my lowest performer a .5% raise and give that extra 2.5% to my top performer.

        My suggestion would be to do the same to teachers.

        Next, and this is huge, if/when times are tight and I’m asked to reduce my team by 2-3-10%, I release the folks from lowest performer to top performer. I’m not bound to keep the oldest employees, I’m incented to keep the best ones.

        If I managed teachers instead of computer network engineers I would measure teachers based on:

        1. How well students did after LEAVING that teachers class for the year. I agree that strict test based merit isn’t a true indicator. One teacher may have a class of stronger students while another might have a class full of weaker students. Rather, I would measure the impact of the teacher by tracking progress out 1 – 2 years in that subject area.

        2. I would audit the teacher’s classroom. Literally, I would sit in class more.

        3. I would require more detailed lesson plans and educational theories. The more that an employee understands, thinks about and documents their methods, the stronger that employee is.

        4. I would institute “Master Teachers”. That is, create a position of Department Chair. So, a teacher might be the Chair of Mathematics. This teacher would be in charge of working with weaker teachers or instituting stronger teacher’s best practices. This Master Teacher would be in a strong position of identifying high performing teachers and lower performing teachers.

        That’s just 4. I’m sure there are a ton of other methods that could be used to measure teacher achievement.

        A side note: By making it easier to remove poor performing teachers the salary of ALL teachers would improve. One of the “compensation” for teachers is the massively strong job security. People are more willing to accept lower pay in exchange for the knowledge they can’t be fired. Remove that “side benefit” and the compensation HAS to increase in other compensations.

        I hope I answered you question.

        • Pino,
          I appreciate at least you have put some thought into an answer. A couple of quick points.

          I don’t think there’s a bldg admin who would not want to spend more time in the classroom. On the other hand, they spend an extraordinary amount of time dealing with BS from a multiple number of sources, which directly impacts their available time.

          Many bldgs have department chairs – and many of the chairs are not master teachers, but either long-timers or yes-types of the hierarchy. They manage their depts in terms of budgets, resources, and at times curriculum …. but don’t get into evaluation of peers …. especially in terms of determining raises.

          A hypothetical for you. Your district has to hire four teachers … let’s make them all fresh out of college: One for second grade, one 7th grade math, one high school phys ed, and one high school science. a) Will they start at the same salary? b) If not, what will determine their salary? c) If another district is competing for the one you want to hire, will you raise the offer?

        • I don’t think there’s a bldg admin who would not want to spend more time in the classroom. On the other hand, they spend an extraordinary amount of time dealing with BS from a multiple number of sources, which directly impacts their available time.

          I suspect you’re right. They need more time.

          Many bldgs have department chairs – and many of the chairs are not master teachers, but either long-timers or yes-types of the hierarchy.

          Right. I would make the position management rather than union. Make it part of their job to evaluate teachers.

          One for second grade, one 7th grade math, one high school phys ed, and one high school science.

          I’m assuming that by listing their subjects you are making he point that some teachers are more in demand than others?

          A: No. More demanding subjects should be paid more.

          B: The market. The more I pay, the better teacher I’ll get.

          C: Yes I would. I do this today for the college hires I bring into the business I’m in.

          • I know geography compounds this question, what will beginning teachers expect to make as a salary?

            angle,

            I couldn’t say. As you mention, each location is different as is each individual situation.

            According to reality, without the power of collective bargaining, they’ll make about 3 thousand dollars less.

            Ironically, they could end up making more. When it comes to “pay”, employers couldn’t care less how the compensation is handed out, only that it is. For example, if the three of us own a law firm and we employ an attorney, we are going to expect to pay her a salary AND provide her an office. If the salary is $90,000 and the office is 5k a year, to us, the cost of employer her is not 90k, but rather 95k.

            Using that same thinking, the cost of hiring a teacher is not only the salary, but the pension and health benefits as well. Part of the problem with the health care is that the plan is that it’s provided to the teacher at no cost to them. Further, the plan has a $0.00 deductible. What this does is it creates an incentive for the families to see the doctor for any and for all ailments. This creates an upward pressure on the cost of the policy.

            By having the teacher bear even a little bit of the cost of the visit with a small and reasonable deductible, the price of those policies will come down, or at least quit going up so fast.

            Because of this, the total “cost” of hiring the teacher may go down and as a result, things like salary will go up.

            Another point that will help salaries go up in Wisconsin is that becoming and staying a teacher just got measurably more difficult. Before this week, it was INCREDIBLY difficult to fire a poor teacher. Now, that is easier. As Wisconsin weeds out her poor teachers, strong ones will have to fill the openings. Strong individuals demand and get more money. You may personally disagree with my politics, however, I refused to work under the conditions forced on us by the union as a teacher. I left after 1 single year and enjoy a successful career in corporate.

            Finally, another result of this is that there will be more teachers than there otherwise would have been. Up to 1500 of them were going to get released. Now, the state can avoid that. Further, those 1500 would have had to be the new young teachers keeping what might be worse teachers safe.

            And remember, the bill does not take away the collective bargaining as it pertains to wages. They can still negotiate for those. Granted, the raises are capped at inflation, but the good Govna DID offer to compromise on that aspect and the State Dems decided they would remain in Illinois.

            For an example on the extraordinary power of incentives involving even a small amount of money, see this from the Wall Street Journal:

            When Dianna Greer of San Diego and her son came down with a cold, she wanted a $13 bottle of NyQuil and daytime cold medicine—and she wanted to pay for it by tapping the $5,000 in her flexible-spending account.

            Ms. Greer says her doctor wouldn’t write prescriptions without an office visit, so she went without the drugs. Later, she got the prescriptions from a doctor at the emergency room, where she was diagnosed with pneumonia.

            Ms. Greer went without medication that cost only $13. Even if she was in the top tax bracket, the savings to her would only have been about 6-7 bucks. If she was lower in the tax bracket, the savings would have been even less. So, in order to save just 6 bucks, she changed the way she took care of her health.

            Financial incentives, even ones so small as to be called silly have powerful implications.

            Thanks for having this conversation angle, it’s nice to discuss calmly rather than “yell”.

            • Pino,
              First of all … I agree that staying civil is great.

              The teachers that I know are already paying a monthly chunk for health care benefits …. and Ohio retirees are also paying a monthly fee. So, where are the teachers not paying part of the benefits? …. or is this a common misconception?

  6. or is this a common misconception?

    Starting new thread to gain more space–too many nested comments and it gets too small.

    See Wall Street Journal here:

    http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424052748703408604576164290717724956.html

    •State Pension. Teachers belong to the Wisconsin state pension plan. That plan requires a 6.8% employer contribution and 6.2% from the employee. However, according to the collective-bargaining agreement in place since 1996, the district pays the employees’ share as well, for a total of 13%.

    •Teachers’ Supplemental Pension. In addition to the state pension, Milwaukee public-school teachers receive an additional pension under a 1982 collective-bargaining agreement. The district contributes an additional 4.2% of teacher salaries to cover this second pension. Teachers contribute nothing.

    •Classified Pension. Most other school employees belong to the city’s pension system instead of the state plan. The city plan is less expensive but here, too, according to the collective-bargaining agreement, the district pays the employees’ 5.5% share.

    Overall, for teachers and other employees, the district’s contributions for pensions and Social Security total 22.6 cents for each dollar of salary. The corresponding figure for private industry is 13.4 cents. The divergence is greater yet for health insurance:

    •Health care for current employees. Under the current collective- bargaining agreements, the school district pays the entire premium for medical and vision benefits, and over half the cost of dental coverage. These plans are extremely expensive.

    •Health insurance for retirees. This benefit is rarely offered any more in private companies, and it can be quite costly. This is especially the case for teachers in many states, because the eligibility rules of their pension plans often induce them to retire in their 50s, and Medicare does not kick in until age 65. Milwaukee’s plan covers the entire premium in effect at retirement, and retirees cover only the growth in premiums after they retire.

    The combination of these types of benefits couple with the fact that we can’t fire poor teachers is brutal.

  7. Ohio teachers contributions to the retirement system are double digit … as are the district’s contribution. Of course unless you are one of the higher ups whose contributions may be paid by the district.

    Health care insurance for retirees is not from the district, but through the retirement system (which the retiree can decline).

    Also, Ohio districts do not contribute to Social Security, nor do the teachers.

    Seems to me you are pigeon holing all situations based on one state (Wisconsin) … and you are basing much of your argument of an inability to fire.

    So far, you explanation has been shallow and ineffective. Besides taking my time, you are far from convincing me.

    • Ohio teachers contributions to the retirement system are double digit … as are the district’s contribution.

      You are correct. From what I an tell the employee portion has been 10% with new changes calling for it to go to 13%. The employer pays 14%.

      Health care insurance for retirees is not from the district, but through the retirement system (which the retiree can decline).

      This is true as well. However, that retirement system is the one we discussed above.

      As for working teachers, they pay, on average across the state, 10% of their premium with the district picking up the the remaining 90%.

      Compared to Ohio, the Wisconsin teachers have it made.

      However, it is important to point out, much like I said earlier, Ohio teachers don’t have as strong a benefit package, but they make more in salary. People seek their best outcome. They are willing to accept less in salary if the benefits are worth it. More in salary if those benefits aren’t.

      Starting Salary:
      Wisconsin – $25,222
      Ohio – $33,671

      Average Salary
      Wisconsin – $46,390
      Ohio – $50,314

      As the state legislates out more and more of these benefits, you will continue to see that the average salary for teachers increases, not decreases.

      Further, I maintain the employees are still able to negotiate on benefits. They simply have to do it more like the private system. If they don’t like the benefits, they can leave ad find a job that DOES pay them more or offer better benefits. If the state finds that too many qualified teachers are leaving, they’ll up the compensation to accommodate.

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