Ohio House Democratic lawmakers reflected on the GOP-led passage of Senate Bill 5 today, marking the three year anniversary of Gov. Kasich signing the bill into law. The law ended the rights of Ohio employees-- educators, firefighters, police officers, prison guards, school employees, healthcare professionals and others—to collectively bargain for fair wages and safe work conditions. Ultimately, SB 5 was overwhelmingly overturned by a citizen-led repeal.
“Today we reflect on the unsafe, unfair law that was SB 5 with the understanding that the same spirit remains evident in Ohio GOP policies that hurt middle class and working Ohioans to benefit a privileged few,” said Democratic Leader Tracy Maxwell Heard (D-Columbus). “Whether it is their economic policies that favor the rich, a tax shift from the wealthy to the struggling middle class or historic budget cuts to our local communities and schools— there is still much work to be done to rebuild a strong middle class in Ohio.”
Senate Bill 5 was widely panned as a politically driven attack, using the GOP’s stranglehold of state government to push through the assault on workers’ rights even in the face of vast public opposition. During the bill’s consideration, mounting public scrutiny of GOP motivations behind SB5 resulted in large Statehouse protests and impromptu closures of the Statehouse to the public—leading Democratic lawmakers to threaten legal action to reopen the Statehouse.
“Senate Bill 5 was one of the most organized attacks on working and middle class Ohioans in our state’s history. Another GOP assault on middle class families is looming with Republican authored, so-called ‘Right to Work’ restrictions pending in the Ohio House,” said Assistant Minority Leader Debbie Phillips (D-Albany). “After the introduction of SB5, Governor Kasich was asked time and time again about his intent to sign the bill and remained evasive, vague and misleading. And then he signed the bill. Now, on the issue of the current so-called ‘Right to Work’ restrictions, he is again evasive and vague. We will not forget. We will remain vigilant and fight to protect working and middle class Ohioans from attacks on their rights and pocketbooks.”
Research has shown that so-called “Right to work” restrictions strip workers of their rights and actually bring down wages and living standards in states where they are enacted. Aside from employees’ voices being collectively weakened, states with so-called “Right to Work” restrictions on the books have lower wages across the board and higher workplace safety violations, including higher numbers of workplace fatalities when compared to states without such legislation.
The Ohio House currently has two bills pending that would bring so-called “Right to Work” restrictions to Ohio.
A collection of quotes from other Democratic lawmakers can be found below:
House Democratic Whip Michael Ashford (Toledo): “Three years ago, Gov. John Kasich signed into law one of the most dangerous and unfair attacks on the rights of workers—SB 5. The Governor believed that he could successfully break the backs of middle class Ohioan’s by stripping away collective barging, but through the efforts of concerned citizens, volunteers and employees a successful repeal eliminated this unsafe law.”
House Democratic Assistant Whip Dan Ramos (Lorain): “Three years ago, Gov. Kasich signed SB5, one of the least fair and most dangerous bills to working people our state has seen in decades. Together, we fought back and stood up to those who would take away the right to collectively bargain for safe working conditions and fair pay.”
Former Democratic Leader, State Rep. Armond Budish (Beachwood): “Three years ago I helped lead the effort to protect the rights of workers to come together to bargain collectively, and the public overwhelmingly responded by repealing Senate Bill 5. But the attacks on workers’ rights are not yet over, and we must remain vigilant in order to preserve our middle class here in Ohio.”
State Rep. Robert F. Hagan (Youngstown): “Senate Bill 5 was a wake up call for working families all across the state -- a message loud and clear that the Republican Party would like nothing more than to muzzle the voice of the worker.
“The attack on workers rights backfired, but somehow they didn't learn their lesson. The so-called ‘Right to Work’ restrictions in the legislature are borne from the same spirit of SB5.”
Rep. Kathleen Clyde (Kent): “Today marks the third anniversary of the passage of Senate Bill 5, one of the most blatant attacks on middle class families and workers in Ohio’s history. The fact that we are living in a state where public employees have collective bargaining rights today is a testament to the hundreds of thousands of Ohioans who marched, rallied and ultimately struck down SB 5 when it was put before the people for a vote.”
“Attacks on workers have not gone away, but what is clear is that Ohioans want their government to strengthen the middle class, not tear it apart with hyper-partisan policies that hurt workers.”
State Rep. Matt Lundy (Lorain): “SB 5 will long be remembered as the largest and meanest attack in decades on Ohio's working families. I couldn't believe the governor would try to paint our teachers, fire fighters and police officers as villains. They're our hometown heroes who deserve to be treated with respect. I was proud to stand with our working families, as together we defeated SB 5.
“Throughout our state's history, Ohioans have made clear that workers and their families should be treated fairly and with respect. Voters sent a very clear message when SB 5 was repealed. Sadly, there are those in Columbus who refuse to listen. SB 5 was just one battle in what appears to be an ongoing war on the rights of workers in Ohio.”