Senate Bill 5, the legislation that would substantially reform the public employee collective bargaining system in Ohio, has passed the Ohio Senate. It now moves on to the Ohio House of Representatives for consideration.

The bill that passed in the Senate was significantly different from the bill originally introduced by its sponsor, Senator Shannon Jones (R). Among other changes, the amended bill that passed:

  • Restores collective bargaining rights for public employees of the state, state-supported colleges and universities, and any agency, commission, authority, or board of the state.
  • Restores Ohio's Office of Collective Bargaining.
  • Limits the ability of public employers to agree to any contract that requires public employees to pay less than 15% (rather than 20% as in the bill as introduced) of the cost of health insurance.
  • Changes the definition of "supervisor" as it relates to faculty members at a state college or university.
  • Alters, from the bill as introduced and from current law, the procedures that come into play upon an impasse in negotiations.
  • Prohibits strikes for all public employees, not just certain groups of public employees, as was the case under both current law and the bill as introduced.
  • Expands the list of a public employer's management rights to include (among other things) the right to transfer or subcontract work.
  • Requires a public employer to deduct union dues and fees, but only so long as the union has filed and maintained a report detailing its expenditures, and also imposes a suspension of dues payments as a penalty for a union that engages in a prohibited strike or similar conduct.
  • Prohibits an hourly overtime premium rate that exceeds the rate required by the FLSA.
  • Imposes limits on paid vacation, holidays, and personal days.

These are just a few examples of the changes contained in the bill, which passed by a slim 17-16 margin. According to press reports, the Ohio House plans an aggressive hearing schedule and ultimately a vote in the next few weeks. Governor Kasich applauded (pdf) the Senate's action in passing the the bill. For their part, opponents are talking about a possible ballot referendum on the bill, taking their case directly to the voters.