Ohio Repeal Effort To Decide If State's Anti-Union Law Lasts

The Ohio law passed this spring that severely limits the collective-bargaining rights of public-worker unions may not take effect, if a repeal effort is successful this November.

The state ballot board Wednesday is completing the final step in getting a referendum on the controversial Senate Bill 5 on the November ballot. The outcome of the panel's ballot language decision will determine which side — pro-repeal or anti-repeal — will be associated with a "yes" vote.

Our StateImpact Ohio team's been following events:

If it takes effect, teachers, police officers, firefighters, teachers, and other public employees will not be able to negotiate for their wages or strike, but they could still bargain for some benefits such as health insurance and pensions.

The state's public-sector unions, which represent more than 350,000 workers, mounted a statewide campaign to put the law before voters in a Nov. 8 referendum. SB 5 will be the second issue on the ballot, between a constitutional amendment increasing the age limit for judges and one barring laws that require anyone to participate in a health-care system.

Foes of Ohio legislation that would limit the collective-bargaining rights of public workers unions at the statehouse, Wednesday, March 30, 2011.

Foes of Ohio legislation that would limit the collective-bargaining rights of public workers unions at the statehouse, Wednesday, March 30, 2011. Jay LaPrete/AP hide caption

itoggle caption Jay LaPrete/AP

A successful repeal effort could be a victory for public-sector employee unions fighting to protect their ability to bargain for wages and benefits and a blow to Republican Governor John Kasich and others who have counted on collective bargaining limits to reduce government spending.

This will be a costly battle — each side is expected to spend $20 million in the run up to Nov. 8.

It may also have political ramifications across the region, as Ohio was among a handful of states in which collective bargaining limits zipped through Republican-dominated legislatures in the spring.

The fallout from Wisconsin's effort, which led to a rancorous standoff and runaway lawmakers, continues through recall efforts of several state senators.

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