A collective bargaining bill is headed for vote today in Ohio. Unlike the bill in Wisconsin, the Ohio proposal will cover police and fire workers. Unfortunately it has been watered down a bit to gain needed support from several Republicans.

The New York Times reports Ohio Set to Vote on Ending Public Union Rights

The Ohio Senate is expected to consider a revised version of a bill to end collective bargaining on Tuesday, and union members gathering outside the Statehouse here Tuesday morning said they were bracing for the worst.

Unlike similar legislation in Wisconsin, which exempts police officers and firefighters, the Ohio bill includes them — and is controversial for that reason.

But Republicans say the legislation that seeks to eliminate long-held union prerogatives are part of broader austerity measures intended to reduce crippling budget deficits, of which public employee pensions have played a growing role.

In Wisconsin, the political divide was expected to only widen on Tuesday as Gov. Scott Walker prepared to announce his budget proposal, which is expected to cut $1 billion in aid to local government over two years.

By early Tuesday, critics of Mr. Walker were already gathering, as they have for two weeks, outside the Capitol. Security was tight, and only some people were allowed to enter. Mr. Walker, a Republican whose proposal to cut collective bargaining rights for public workers and increase their pension and health care contributions has set off a firestorm here, will present his budget in the state Assembly chambers. Some Democrats were already predicting that the cuts in his new budget might lead to still more protests, more disagreement, more of a split in this state’s Republican-dominated Capitol.

In his two-week-long standoff with Democrats and state employee unions, Mr. Walker has pressured 14 Democratic state senators, who have fled the state, to return to deal with what he says are important fiscal deadlines that would otherwise pass this week and harm the state.

But the Democrats are staying put, in Illinois, to avoid a quorum and thus stall a proposal by Mr. Walker that would strip public employee unions of nearly all their collective bargaining powers, allow publicly owned power plants to be sold with what critics say is little guarantee of fair value, and give the governor’s appointees what public health advocates describe as expansive new powers to limit health care coverage for lower-income residents.

The NYT article failed to point out the details or recent compromises that have watered down the bill.

As originally proposed the bill effectively ended all collective bargaining rights for all public unions. Unfortunately that will not pass. A recent revision to gain key votes will allow bargaining for wages only, not benefits. It also places a no-strike clause.

This is not perfect. Perfect is getting rid of public unions entirely. However, it is a good start.

In Wisconsin, Governor Walker will begin laying off workers unless legislators playing hooky in Illinois return to Wisconsin to vote. It is good to see governor Walker hold firm.

Mike “Mish” Shedlock
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