Ohio Police Officers against Senate Bill 5


Testimony before the Insurance, Commerce, and Labor committee, 17 February 2011

Date: Tuesday, February 22, 2011
Time: 1 PM
Location: Ohio Statehouse, 1 Capitol Square, Columbus, OH
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Chairman Bacon, Vice Chair Faber, and Ranking Member Schiavoni, and all members of the Insurance, Commerce and Labor Committee;

My name is Jay McDonald and I’m an active police officer with the City of Marion Police Department and I am also the President of the Fraternal Order of Police of Ohio, representing 26,000 active and retired officers in every corner of Ohio.  I’m here today to state that, as Senate Bill 5 is written, Ohio law enforcement stands opposed. . . .

Senate Bill 5 will have a deep impact on public safety officers across the state.  There are parts of the bill that make sense.  For instance, we agree on the need for transparency so that citizens can better understand what happens in the bargaining process and what’s in each contract.  In fact, we think transparency can be improved on the side of labor and management.  The public will probably be surprised to learn that many times the cost of the management attorney is more than the cost of the wage or benefit increases requested.

But here’s the fundamental problem — we simply can’t support a blanket elimination of collective bargaining for our members.  The membership of the FOP of Ohio who work for the state provide an essential service and deserve to have a seat at the table when determining their wages and terms and conditions of their employment.

We have over one thousand members at the Department of Public Safety, the Attorney General’s Office, the Department of Taxation, the Department of Mental Health and the colleges and universities across Ohio.  Those members are just as much at risk and are just as dedicated to public safety as those members who work for Sheriff’s Offices and Police Departments and they deserve the same rights.

The elimination of binding arbitration for public safety personnel is unneeded and unwise.  Consider also that public safety workers are at the additional disadvantage in negotiations because we can’t strike.   Collective bargaining and our rights to binding arbitration are fundamental.  While less than two percent of contract negotiations end up in arbitration, it’s an essential backstop for fairness in the process.

We believe strongly that the state made a covenant with police when, in 1983, the right to strike was eliminated.  In its place, we won the right to enter binding arbitration.  But today that covenant is in danger — not only might we lose the right to binding arbitration, but also our basic right to collective bargaining — a right that protects our 26,000 members and their families. . . .

Another argument we hear is that there is a need for merit pay in law enforcement.  Speaking of issues that have a potentially detrimental effect on agency operations, merit pay would essentially create a system where an officer might be paid based on the number of tickets written or warrants executed.

No one wants to pay police just to write extra tickets.  We understand that enforcing the law doesn’t always make everyone happy.

On occasion, when we enforce the traffic law, someone might even call a police officer an idiot.  But that’s a topic for another day.

We believe strongly that wearing the badge, representing and protecting our communities and state on a daily basis is merit enough to earn a fair wage. . . .

Jay McDonald is President of the Fraternal Order of Police of Ohio.  The text above is an excerpt from his testimony.  Click here to download the full text of the testimony in PDF.  Video by Marc Kovac, Capital Blog.  For more information, visit <oh.aflcio.org/index.cfm?action=calendar>, <www.afscmecouncil8.org> and <www.facebook.com/pages/Stand-Up-For-Ohio/167952849919161>.  See, also, “Ohio Labor: No on SB5!”; Dan La Botz, “A New American Workers Movement Has Begun” (MRZine, 18 February 2011); Dan La Botz, “Thousands Rally in Columbus to Stop Anti-Union Bill” (Labor Notes, 18 February 2011). 


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