The collective bargaining reform law SB5 is a constructive attempt, albeit a modest one, to address the inherent problem that unionization of government employees and the resulting excessive cost it has brought to state and local governments in Ohio.
Now that SB5 has been signed into law, the second round over this reform begins in earnest, namely the fight over the repeal initiative.
Big Labor should have little trouble in getting the required number of signatures on its petition for repeal, so the question is: Will SB 5 be able to withstand a statewide referendum at the ballot box? Maybe yes, maybe no. But perhaps a more pertinent question would be: What happens if the repeal initiative is successful?
In that event that SB5 is defeated, those on the state and local government payrolls will undoubtedly celebrate. They will bask in the glow of having chased the big bad wolf from their door. And if distortions, threats, and obfuscations were needed to do the trick, then so be it.
But will the wolf be gone? Hardly.
Erasing SB 5 will not change the systemic imbalance that Ohio faces between government spending and revenues collected. Nor can a repeal boost the state’s economy in any way. Indeed, without SB5, the public-sector cartels will continue to stifle economic growth, and best that can be realistically hoped for is that the erosion of jobs, companies, and young people from Ohio remains steady.
A more likely scenario, however, is that a high visibility defeat of SB 5 will cement the image of Ohio as a hard core union state where meaningful labor reform is next to impossible. Let that happen, and the weakening of the Buckeye economy and overall standard of living will accelerate.
The dirty little secret that the pro-appealers won’t dare to mention between now and November is that their alternative to SB5 will have to be a combination of tax increase and layoffs of government employees. Since the likelihood for tax hikes at either the state or local level is marginal at best, the bulk of the budget balancing will then, out of necessity, have to come in the form of reductions in government manpower — significant reductions at that.
Up until now, the public-sector unions have tried to scare the public with over the top claims that SB5 will diminish government services. The irony here is that it is the repeal of SB5 that would do exactly that. For recall, it was the coercion of the Roosevelt Administration in preventing wages from falling during the Great Depression that drove unemployment to its heights. Repeal SB5, and this history will likely repeat itself