Ward: Collective heatWritten by Lisa Renee Ward | | email@example.com
In Columbus, things have been heating up concerning Senate Bill 5, to the extreme that legal threats were needed to allow entry for the thousands gathered at the Statehouse on Feb. 22.
In Toledo, things heated up at the Feb. 22 City Council meeting when a resolution, “Discouraging State Legislators’ support of Senate Bill 5’s attack on organized Labor” was presented by Councilman Phil Copeland.
Deputy Mayor Steve Herwat said Mayor Mike Bell and the administration support collective bargaining for public employees.
“We have to realize in this economy that there is a limited amount of resources that the public is willing to give us as elected officials and that bargaining has to take place within that context,” Herwat said.
Councilman George Sarantou said he was in full support of collective bargaining, but he wanted to delay the passage of this legislation. Senator Mark Wagoner had told him several amendments were going to be introduced “that will absolutely change what Senate Bill 5 as proposed is all about,” Sarantou said.
Bound copies of the more than 700-page bill were given to Council members by Councilman Rob Ludeman. He supported Sarantou’s request to delay passing the resolution.
“It would be premature to support or be against it until we’ve had a chance to digest it,” Ludeman said. He wanted a couple of weeks to “make a logical decision based on what we have in front of us and not in the newspapers,” he said.
“Senate Bill 5 is on a fast track, we need to make our position as a Council known,” Councilwoman Paula Hicks-Hudson said. “We have to be very clear; there are already mechanisms to handle questions as it relates to budgetary shortfalls.”
The ability to read the analysis by the Legislative Service Commission was pointed out by Councilman D. Michael Collins; it was about 42 pages instead of 776.
“This bill eviscerates every single right of a public sector employee — make no mistake about it — it’s an evisceration or gutting of a bill that has legislative history for 28 years,” Collins said. To go back to the 1970s would create nothing less than “collective begging for public sector employees.”
Resolution sponsor Copeland said, “When I decided to go with this resolution, I did it from the bottom of my heart, because I believe in it, this is the way I plan to vote tonight, from the bottom of my heart. But … I don’t want to be a part of trying to kill this slowly.”
“I would add that I don’t know what amendments would have to be made to Senate Bill 5 that would change my vote; it would have to be pulled from consideration,” said Councilman Steve Steel. He said he could not support a “continuous attack on the middle class.”
Ludeman suggested changing some of the language. He said if they did that he’d support it. Councilman Tom Waniewski asked for an opinion from the law department. He felt Steel’s position as an adjunct instructor at Bowling Green State University created a situation where Steel should abstain.
Councilman Adam Martinez said both he and Collins were both in similar teaching positions. Steel said he was hired by management and was not eligible to be in the union and then questioned Waniewski’s motivation for making that point. Lourdes Santiago from the law department said there is no conflict of interest.
“This is serious. I don’t understand how the mayor can at once say he supports collective bargaining and then simultaneously support Senate Bill 5 or make suggestions to tweak Senate Bill 5,” Councilwoman Lindsay Webb said. She said it was “disingenuous.” “I do believe in my heart of hearts that the labor unions that represent the City of Toledo have done a fair job of providing a significant amount of concessions.”
Ludeman’s amendment failed; only the three Republicans voted for it.
The vote on the resolution split along party lines, three Republicans voted no, eight Democrats and one independent voted yes. Nine, as Webb pointed out, was veto-proof, since there had been speculation the mayor would veto this resolution.
While resolutions hold no legislative power, Council has spoken — now all eyes turn to Columbus.
Toledo Free Press Web Editor Lisa Renee Ward operates the political blog GlassCityJungle.com.