With the vote on Ohio Issue 2 right around the corner, I felt compelled to share with you some facts that might help you make an informed and fair decision when you step into your local voting booth this November. I hope that you will read this information with an open mind.
I recently received findings from a report compiled by a former Ohio journalist, TC Brown. During his journalism career, he was the assistant bureau chief for The (Cleveland) Plain Dealer in the Statehouse Bureau in Columbus, and he has written for several magazines and national publications. His stories drove reforms in many areas, such as changes in state policy for disposing of hazardous and radioactive waste and transformations in the manner in which the state determines its consumer fraud recovery, to name a few.
He has received national, state, and local journalism awards, and resides in Ohio where he works as a writer, editor, social media expert, media consultant, and an investigator.
I tell you these things to reinforce the veracity of the information that TC Brown reported when he turned his numerous skills to studying public workers. In his research, he found out some interesting information about the willingness of these public workers to sacrifice during tough economic times. The following are some of his key findings (which I quote directly):
• Public union workers have saved taxpayers more than $1 billion through collective bargaining concessions since 2008.
• State employees contributed $350 million in wage freezes, furlough days and increased healthcare costs.
• Teachers and support staff accepted wage freezes in more than 90 percent of collective bargaining agreements this year – concessions not tallied in this report because they are not yet available.
• Last year, at least 65 percent of public employee contracts included at least 1 year of wage freezes, some furlough days, reduced compensation, rollovers or economic re-openers.
• Some of the lowest-paid public employees – non-teaching personnel such as custodians – have gone up to eight years without a pay increase in exchange for stable health care costs.
• More than two-thirds of all teachers’ contracts increased employee insurance premium contributions or significantly changed their health plans, with the savings often used to improve educational opportunities.
• More than 93 percent of public workers already pay for their own pension plans, with no contributions from their employers.
• On average, county and state employees pay more than 15 percent for their health care plans.
• A sample review of concessions in a half dozen Ohio cities shows that employees and safety forces have saved their towns nearly $11.5 million since 2008.
• By far, the largest pool of concessions identified in this report came from public education unions, who are estimated to have saved school districts at least $700 million for the 2010-11 (fiscal) school year.
• The collective bargaining law has been a successful tool that essentially eliminated much of the conflict the state saw three decades ago between public-sector unions and government managers.
• When the economy is good, public employees have made modest gains through contract negotiations. When times are tougher, public employees have been willing to make concessions to preserve jobs, maintain programs and services and help their employers balance budgets
In fact, according to his findings, public employees made over $1 billion in sacrifices to help out their state and local budgets during these tough economic times.
Is it too much to hope that these sacrifices will not be overlooked in November? Public workers are not asking for much when you show up to vote in this upcoming election; just the right to have a voice in important decisions which affect our ability to do our jobs successfully. Who knows better than teachers, policemen, and firefighters how to best serve and protect those individuals we have agreed to serve and protect?
Do not reward our deep commitment by stripping us of our ability to speak up for our rights and our futures. Over $1 billion in sacrifices is surely worth that much, don’t you think?
Please, remember our sacrifices in November, Ohio, and vote no on Issue 2!