March 13, 2011- Ohio's controversial bill to weaken collective bargaining rights for public workers in the state is opposed by more than 9 out of 10 people in a new online poll.
The results come the same weekend as tens of thousands of pro-union protesters coordinated a huge rally in Wisconsin over similar legislation there.
The BizPulse Survey conducted this past week reveals that 92 percent of the respondents said they did not support Ohio's efforts to limit collective bargaining for public workers. Of those, 75 percent said it was an attack on middle class workers, while 17 percent said it simply won't solve anything.
There was little support voiced for the limits, with 7 percent in favor. Of those, 5 percent said the limits on public unions should already have been done, and another 2 percent said the moves were necessary for balancing the state's budget.
Ohio faces an estimated $8 billion budget shortfall and the administration of new Ohio Gov. John Kasich is looking for ways to help the state become more efficient and save money.
The poll had 11,412 votes cast with dozens of reader comments and ran on the Dayton Business Journal's Web site. While not a scientific poll, the survey does offer insight into the thinking of a wide segment of the population.
This was the most votes ever received in a BizPulse Survey on the DBJ's Web site. It generated roughly five-times the amount of votes in the previous most-voted poll, revealing just how passionate many people are on this issue.
Among the comments from readers on this issue, one person said they would go even further than the legislation does.
"To balance the budget I would accept the banning of all collective bargaining agreements between the State of Ohio and union government employees," they said.
But other comments were more supportive of the unions.
"I am a union teacher and I make $22,000 a year (this is my fourth year). I pay $180 per month for health care just for my daughter and myself. Do you really consider that 'rolling in the dough?'" the reader commented.
"If the Republicans really were out to balance Ohio's budget, they would take a look at Medicaid. Do you really think that when you get rid of the unions, employers are going to give raises and benefits because it's the right thing to do? You live in a fairy-tale world if you do."
The Ohio bill is similar to legislation in Wisconsin that has drawn national attention and protests.
The battle over the legislation that some say is "anti-union" and others say is necessary to balance Ohio's $8 billion state budget shortfall is not over yet.
In a nutshell, SB 5, which is supported by Kasich, changes the collective bargaining process for state and local government employees, allowing public workers to negotiate only on issues related to wages, hours, terms and conditions of employment.
The bill also prohibits public employees from striking, and bill proponents claim its provisions will give state and local governments more flexibility over their budgets, especially during a time of fiscal crisis.
The bill only would change collective bargaining for public employee unions, but not make any changes in how private company's deal with unions.