Union Busting SB5 Rammed Through By Republican Plutarchy in Ohio

While the eyes of the nation have been transfixed on the uprising in Wisconsin, Republicans in Ohio have used an unprecedented parliamentary maneuver to railroad their own version of a union busting bill through the legislature.  The unpopular measure known as as SB5 makes public sector strikes illegal and mirrors a savage assault on workers planned throughout the country.

A dozen cookies are put down in front of a CEO, a Tea Partier, and a union member. The CEO grabs 11 then says to the Tea Partier, “That union guy wants your cookie”.

SB5 passed the Ohio by a razor thin 17-16 vote, with 6 Republicans switching sides and voting with Democrats against the bill.  Before the vote could take place, SB5 had to clear 2 committees where it didn’t have the votes needed.

That is the point where Senate President Tom Niehaus (R) did something never before done: he made the autocratic decision to remove 1 sympathetic Republican from each committee that was against the measure and replaced them with a Republican Senator that supported it.  Niehaus pulled Sen. Bill Seitz (R-Cincinnati) off the Ohio state Senate’s Commerce, Insurance and Labor Committee without warning or Message, which violated Senate Rule 19, replacing him with a an anti-union loyalist Senator Cliff Hite (R-Findlay).  This allowed a 7-5 vote for the measure.

Plutocracy: rule by the wealthy, or power provided by wealth.
Oligarchy: a form of power structure in which power effectively rests with a small number of people.
Plutocracy + Oligarchy = Plutarchy

Repeating this autocratic move a second time, Niehaus also ordered the removal of Sen. Scott Oelslager (R-North Canton) from the Senate Rules Committee to avoid a split vote.  Two decrees to strip committee membership and replace with loyalists is unheard of in the history of American politics.

The passage of SB5 in the Ohio Senate caused an immediate uproar.  The bill is severe.  It officially does not end collective bargaining rights, but ultimately eradicates the only meaningful recourse behind it if negotiations fail: the strike.  SB5 allows the detention and jailing of strikers for 30 days, and mandates a fine of twice their pay for every day they are on the picket line.  Reactions were bitter:

“Senate Bill 5 risks firefighters’ and citizens’ lives” -Lt. Mark Sanders, Cincinnnati Fire Dept and President of the Ohio Association of Professional Firefighters

“We will not support this.  If it’s illegal and criminal to strike, you really don’t have any collective bargaining rights at all.” -Joe Schiavoni (D-OH)

“It’s worse than before.  We are beside ourselves. This turns it totally political” -Mark Horton, Ohio Association of Professional Firefighters Treasurer

The Ohio Republicans are not even really pretending to be trying to balance the budget at this stage, the attack on public sector unions is quite blatant at this point, and stirred up 10,000 protesters at the capitol in Columbus on Wednesday.

SB5 is the Ohio version of a much larger effort across the nation by conservatives (primarily Republican) who are deliberately creating large debts and a pressing fiscal situation as a tool to attack the last vestige of organized labor in America. Although most corporations often do not pay taxes in America including giants like Exxon-Mobile and Bank Of America, corporate taxation was eliminated in Ohio two years ago, causing massive deficits to erupt, partially leading to the financial pinch the state is in today.

“Starving the beast” is a fiscal-political strategy of some American conservatives to create or increase existing budget deficits via tax cuts to force future reductions in the size of government. The term “beast” refers to the government and the programs it funds, particularly social programs such as welfare, Social Security, Medicare and public schools. –wiki

In Wisconsin, the new Republican majorities are attempting to do the same thing.  $140 million in tax cuts for the rich and corporations, along with other measures that reward political loyalists and campaign donors are partially responsible for the crunch.  On Tuesday Gov. Scott Walker hid behind the Republican Guard and denied the public access to the capitol in Madison to plead his case with voters, while new polls indicate 62% of America rejects killing collective bargaining rights (81% favor taxing the rich to reduce deficits).  Public unions have already agreed to financial concessions there, but are unwilling to sacrifice their collective bargaining rights, creating a stalemate.

This Starve The Beast pattern is familiar in many states at the moment, where new Republican majorities elected to state legislatures as part of the astroturfed Tea Party movement are trying to railroad pro-corporate, pro-rich legislation through chambers at the expense of workers, often in very large bills with little time given to debate or discussion.

This is characteristic of the national policies as well, that have seen a huge ballooning of the national debt under every Republican administration in the last 30 years except Clinton.  Tax cuts for the rich and corporations paid for on the backs of the poor and the middle class: America is getting a classic case of buyer’s remorse.

Editor’s note – Photos courtesy of the SEIU Flickr page.


22 Responses to Union Busting SB5 Rammed Through By Republican Plutarchy in Ohio

  1. +2 Vote -1 Vote +1Michael Cole
    March 3, 2011 at 4:53 am

    With the Mid West GOP wave of Union Busting Bills and the growing Public resentment towards their heavy handed tactics, in the form of tens, if not hundreds of thousands of protesters, union members and non-union members standing side by side, you have to wonder if they regret their retoric of the last Election,

    “Second Amendment Remedies” From NV Senate hopeful Sharon Angle

    “Rep. Allen West, R-Fort Lauderdale, called in to the right-wing talk radio show of the woman he originally hired as his chief of staff, Joyce Kaufman, responding to criticism of Kaufman’s controversial statement ‘If ballots don’t work, bullets will’ in light of the shooting of Rep. Gabrielle Giffords, D-Ariz.”

    Michele Bachman wanted MN voters to be “Armed and Dangerous”

    All threatening massive protests if the Will of the People wwasn’t followed and the Rghts of the People were abrogated.

    The wanted Protests, now they have them. From the other side.

    Michael Cole

    You do know Cllinton is a Democrat, don’t you? The big three Dems, Barrack, Hillary, and Bill.

    • +2 Vote -1 Vote +1Ole Ole Olson
      March 3, 2011 at 11:32 am

      Thanks for that well thought out reply Michael,
      The rhetoric from the right could certainly be called incitement, and there have been dozens of acts of what could only be termed as right wing domestic terrorism since Palin entered the scene, but that is sort of peripheral here. The far right politicians they support are the ones however that have stirred up a hornets nest with their insane attempts to destroy the last union holdouts in America while giving massive tax breaks to the rich and corporations.

      About the Clinton/GOP remark in the article, that was deliberate. It was political commentary referring to his center-right fiscal policies.

      “I think Bill Clinton was the best Republican president we’ve had in a while.”
      -Alan Greenspan

      “probably the best Republican president the country ever had, if you look at the policies he passed.”
      -Rachel Maddow

      Bill Clinton is perhaps the best Republican president we’ve had since Abraham Lincoln.
      -Michael Moore

      Unfortunately, I don’t think we’ve had a real leftist president in the US since JFK, and before him FDR. The Democrats tend to be center right and the Republicans mid-far right (thus the expression: 2 Republican Parties).

      • -1 Vote -1 Vote +1Zenith Nadir
        March 4, 2011 at 3:06 am

        “Unfortunately, I don’t think we’ve had a real leftist president in the US since JFK, and before him FDR”

        Both of whom were wary (at the very least) of public service unionization.

        “The Democrats tend to be center right and the Republicans mid-far right (thus the expression: 2 Republican Parties).”

        And this just proves you are willfully ignorant and batsht crazy.

  2. -4 Vote -1 Vote +1tom
    March 3, 2011 at 6:41 am

    I think we can do without half the firefighters anyway!

    • -1 Vote -1 Vote +1Me
      March 3, 2011 at 10:06 am

      I think we are willing to compromise here… Let’s not fire half the firemen, ok? Let’s just keep the firefighters, but fire half the administration, and then create a sane pension system for firefighters… OK? I think that’s a better plan, don’t you? If you want, we could instead privatize the system?

    • +3 Vote -1 Vote +1Britton
      March 3, 2011 at 5:08 pm

      The most moronic comment ever! WTH is wrong with you?? Without them you’d be stuck dead somewhere during an emergency.

      • +2 Vote -1 Vote +1Ole Ole Olson
        March 3, 2011 at 9:08 pm

        It could be a troll or could be a real right wing economic extremist. If you recall, there was a libertarian neighborhood near Phoenix that refused to contribute to a “socialistic” fire department, and eventually one of their houses caught on fire, and they had no fire dept. to call to put it out. Some economic nuts really take their extremist dogma seriously, and it is hard to distinguish them from the trolls.

  3. +1 Vote -1 Vote +1Chris
    March 3, 2011 at 7:41 am


    Lets light your house on fire and test that theory!

    • -2 Vote -1 Vote +1Me
      March 3, 2011 at 10:14 am

      Bottom line is that while firefighters do a good job, they have no stake in seeing that your home doesn’t burn to the ground.

      In California, we have wildfires. During the last fires, I know of a few intrepid people who stayed behind and saved both their homes and their neighbors houses. That was darn dangerous, but they accomplished more with their garden-hoses and sprinklers than the firefighters that were overwhelmed and had spaced themselves a good deal away down the street.

      • +4 Vote -1 Vote +1Ensign Ricky
        March 3, 2011 at 10:35 am

        Let’s be realistic about firefighters here.

        If you have a house fire, they will do everything they can to save your home.

        In the case of wildfires, it becomes a matter of triage. Homes are going to burn down in most urban wildfires. That is unavoidable. The firefighters have to choose which homes they can save while trying to stop the fire while not risking their own lives. They also can’t choose to put out home fires during a wildfire at the expense of combating the wildfire itself. If they focus too much on homes, the wildfire as a whole will blaze out of control while they are focusing their attention elsewhere.

  4. +1 Vote -1 Vote +1Joey Temer
    March 3, 2011 at 7:47 am

    OK, that makes a lot of sense when you think about it.


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  6. -6 Vote -1 Vote +1Me
    March 3, 2011 at 9:59 am

    I _LOVE_ what the duly elected leaders of Wisconsin are doing. Finally, elected officials are listening to the people that elected them, and are standing up to the fat bureaucracy and Union thugs that are wasting away our tax dollars and freedom. Enough is enough.

    • +6 Vote -1 Vote +1A_Watcher
      March 3, 2011 at 4:48 pm

      Except that those elected leaders are PART OF that fat bureaucracy AND the ‘union thugs’ have willingly AGREED to the proposed cuts. The ONLY THING they refuse to relinquish is their bargaining rights. I find it downright impossible to believe that a scant 7% of the workforce that belongs to unions is SOMEHOW responsible for that states deficit.

  7. +1 Vote -1 Vote +1Charle
    March 4, 2011 at 12:42 am

    The GOP doesn’t give a f**k about the tax payers. I’m just hoping the Dems, when back in office in 2012 (which they will be now) drop nuclear option after nuclear option on the GOP. Just like everything else, the GOP started the war, the Dems will finish it – and do what’s in the best interest of the country as a whole, not some minor wealthy faction.

    Class War 2012!

    • -1 Vote -1 Vote +1Zenith Nadir
      March 4, 2011 at 3:25 am

      Keep thinking that way if you want everything to go to Hell. If not, you’d best start thinking about where to best live off the land. No nation with a substantial public sector requiring more than its middle class can provide will last for long. Never has. Never will. Prepare for the worst.

      Reality Prevails.

      • +1 Vote -1 Vote +1DownriverDem
        March 4, 2011 at 11:41 am

        Keep thinking your way. You need a serious heart and soul check up. Too many folks are blind to who the repubs really are because they think they are voting for Guns, God and Gays. In reality all you are going to do is die anyway and yet you align yourself with the party of greed, hate, lies, fear, racism, homophobia, and folks who don’t have a clue as to what our country stands for. They have been brainwashed and come across as so ignorant it is a total embarrassment. All they want to do is go back to the 1950s and early 1960s. How sick is that?
        Anyone who is not rich (billionare) and votes for the repubs is a total fool! (Not to mention that we all know race plays a part too.)
        I’m guessing you are not rich.

  8. -3 Vote -1 Vote +1Zenith Nadir
    March 4, 2011 at 3:19 am

    “A dozen cookies are put down in front of a CEO, a Tea Partier, and a union member. The CEO grabs 11 then says to the Tea Partier, “That union guy wants your cookie”.”

    There are four individuals here. Who put down the cookies?

    Given that there were no stipulations as to whom the cookies belonged, I see no reason to believe there was an obligation to share them equally. First come, first serve has a long standing tradition in the….oh, the World.

    I’d also like to point out that the union member has no right to that cookie until his/her union has managed to negotiate what portion of the cookie is to be provided to said union in lieu of dues.

  9. +1 Vote -1 Vote +1DownriverDem
    March 4, 2011 at 11:32 am

    It’s all part of the repub plan starting back in the 1980s. Too many folks have been propagandized by the likes of Fox Lies and rightie talk radio which has been dominate throughout the land for 30 years. If we want change, we need a big shift in Washington DC. Not just the House (Pelosi did her job when Speaker), but a big shift in the Senate. The Senate was just barley in Dem hands. They were able to put up bills, but there were just enough blue dogs to gum up the works. The Dems did not have a strong 60 votes. If folks would have understood this, they would never have sat out the 2010 election. They thought they were going to punish the Dems. All they did was punish “we the people”. How’s that working out for ya?
    So we need to get out the vote and donate big time. The humongous money that the repubs will have to spend thanks to the Koch brothers et al, will be a big problem. Also I don’t hold out much hope for the media either. They have done a horrible job of covering the union fight across the land.
    Anyone who isn’t rich (billionaire) and votes for the repubs, is a total fool! (Not to mention that we all know race plays a part too.)

  10. -1 Vote -1 Vote +1RJ
    March 4, 2011 at 6:43 pm

    simply put
    taxes extorted by govt / pols from working mans paychecks
    govt workers unions dues extracted by gov on behalf of union bosses who “take care” of lazy slug union members jobs via collective bargining and contracts negioated with pols who are elected with large donations from union bosses in return for favors in contract negioations via collective bargining and threat of strikes.
    The tax payer is shafted with no recourse except eliminate collective bargining and controlling their local govt budget through whatever means nescessary including pay cuts/ bene cuts/ layoffs in public workers if necessary.
    Of course if they dont like their pay package they can seek employment elsewhere….
    Ya can lead a horse to water but ya can’t make him drink!

  11. Vote -1 Vote +1greg
    March 4, 2011 at 10:29 pm

    I am an ex 5th grade teacher who retired early when I was told that to keep my job I would have to give up my reality based views AND, that the State Dept. of EduKashun, as a matter of policy, had banned and denied the existence of the ‘Bell Curve’ to meet the requirements of the “All Children Dragged Behind” act. In my view all of these attacks on public worker unions are just one of many ‘fire fights’ we have to deal with on a weekly basis which are designed to divide us and keep our attention away from what is really going on.

    What we are all faced with is an attempt to take over America by the religious right wing crazies who will not quit until we are all down in the same hole they are in. We all must embrace their twisted anti-science, anti-education, anti-people, world view. We must accept a theocratic government that operates on “faith based” concepts of reality. This movement is of course supported and funded by the 2% of our population’s rich who find it easier to control a mostly unarmed, uninformed, and ignorant political group(s) than to deal with a well educated and informed voting population. The only difference between these Very Dangerous and Very Bad humans and the Afghan Muslim extremists is that the Taliban has more guns.

  12. Vote -1 Vote +1WungoMungo
    March 6, 2011 at 1:13 pm

    lol, is anyone actually surprised by this? I mean seriously.


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