Senate Bill 5 Summary (as Passed by the Legislature)
Note: The referendum challenge to this bill succeeded and this bill did not become law. See our referendum information page for information about the referendum process.
Amended Substitute Senate Bill 5, passed by the legislature on March 30, 2011, makes a number of changes to Ohio’s collective bargaining law. This summary only considers changes made to R.C. Chapter 4117 (which provides for public employee collective bargaining) and only discusses some of the changes which most harm employees. This summary does not individually list specific provisions throughout the bill which remove the effect of seniority for public employees, remove the ability of public employees to collectively bargain over various terms of employement (such as health care), prohibit employers from making contributions to a retirement program on the employee’s behalf and make other changes harmful to the rights of public employees.
How does Am. Sub. S.B. 5 harm employees?
Am. Sub. S.B. 5 Harms Employees by Denying the Right to Meaningfully Bargain With Their Employer and By Giving the Employer the Ability to “Arbitrate” Disputes:
- Eliminates Resolution of Disputes by a Neutral Party: The Bill removes the right of the parties to agree to arbitration by a neutral party to resolve disputes when bargaining an Agreement and removes mandatory arbitration by a neutral party for safety employees, such as police and fire fighters. The Bill also removes the right of the parties to agree to other methods to resolve negotiation disputes.
- Employer to “Arbitrate” Disputes: When the parties cannot agree to a contract, S.B. 5 provides for the legislative body to consider each party’s last, best offer and choose which offer to adopt. In other words, the employer gets to decide whether to adopt its own offer as the agreement.
- Employer Decision Not Final: Under certain circumstances, the employer’s decision to adopt a contract is not final. Instead, an election will be held where the voters have to decide which offer to implement. The employer’s offer would be imposed until the election results become final.
- Employees (and their Organizations) Cannot Engage in Any Refusal to Work: Bars employees from any strike, picketing, or refusal to work. The bill basically denies employees any meaningful ability to bargain with their employer.
- “Strike” Given Broad Definition, Prohibited and Penalized: Denies employees the right to strike, and defines strike broadly to include being absent without permission or not engaging in full performance of the employee’s work in the employee’s normal manner. Penalizes employees who the employer determines have engaged in a “strike” by causing employees to lose twice their daily rate of pay for every day they were on strike.
- Employer May Receive Injunction to Prevent Strike and Union to Be Penalized for Strike: In addition to the limitations on strikes already discussed, S.B. 5 permits the employer to seek an injunction to prevent a strike.
Am. Sub. S.B. 5 Harms Employees By Permitting the Employer to Unilaterally Ignore the Agreement:
- Public Employer Can Suspend Salary or Benefit Increases: S.B. 5 permits a public employer in a state of fiscal watch (declared by the auditor) to unilaterally modify a collective bargaining agreement to suspend any salary or benefit increases.
- Governor or Auditor Can Authorize Public Employer to Terminate or Modify Agreement: If the governor or auditor declare a public employer to be in a state of fiscal emergency, the public employer can terminate, modify or renegotiate a collective bargaining agreement.
Am. Sub. S.B. 5 Harms Employees by Denying the Right to Negotiate Over A Number of Terms and Conditions of Employment:
- Employees Cannot Bargain for a Number of Items, Including Health Care Benefits: S.B. 5 removes a number of items from collective bargaining, including health care benefits and retirement contributions.
- Teachers Cannot Bargain Over Class Size: S.B. 5 provides that schools cannot bargain over maximum number of students per class.
- Privatization must be allowed: No agreement can prohibit privatization, or provide for current employees to be employed or compensated for the loss of their job due to privatization.
Am. Sub. S.B. 5 Harms Employees by Denying them the Right to Belong to a Bargaining Unit
- Denies Bargaining Rights to Certain Police and Fire Fighters: R.C. 4117.01 currently provides that only the chief (or those who can be authorized to act for the chief) of the department can be considered a supervisor (and excluded from collective bargaining rights). S.B. 5 removes that restriction.
- Alters Fire Fighter Unions: S.B. 5 amends the law to provide that a collective bargaining unit for fire fighters cannot include both rank and file members and members with the rank of lieutenant or above. Under terms of the law, any unit including such members will cease to be an appropriate unit.
- Denies Bargaining Rights to Faculty Members: Currently, only heads of departments are considered supervisors (and are excluded from collective bargaining rights). S.B. 5 considers any faculty member with decision-making authority a supervisor. Additionally, S.B. 5 would define faculty members involved in institutional policymaking (such as through a faculty senate) as management (who would be excluded from collective bargaining rights).
- Employees of Conversion Community Schools Can Be Excluded: Under S.B. 5, employees of community schools can be denied collective bargaining rights.
- Denies Bargaining Rights to Public/Private Employees Excluded from NLRB: Currently, employees working under a contract between a public and private employer who have been excluded from coverage by the NLRB as public employees are considered public employees. S.B. 5 removes such employees from the definition of public employee.