It took the removal of two — count ‘em — union-sympathetic Republicans from Ohio state Senate committees, but supporters of Gov. John Kasich’s (R) plan to limit collective bargaining rights for state workers were able to move their plan one step closer to Kasich’s desk today.
By a vote of 7-5, a State Senate Committee charged with reviewing the collective bargaining proposal — known as Senate Bill 5 — moved the bill toward a floor reading and its expected passage. Shortly after that, a similarly close vote moved the bill out of the Senate Rules Committee.
The bill is now on the Senate floor and passage is expected imminently. But opponents of the law say the pathway to today’s vote shows how hard a sell Kasich’s plan is to the broad swath of voters in the Buckeye state.
Indeed, the narrow committee victories for supporters of the plan came with some awfully bad optics. In order to ensure a vote that would go Kasich’s way, the leader of the GOP-controlled state Senate removed Sen. Bill Seitz (R) from the Insurance and Labor Committee and Sen. Scott Oelslager (R) from the Rules Committee. Both Republicans are opposed to Kasich’s collective bargaining plan, and their votes against it would have deadlocked their respective committees, thus keeping the bill from moving ahead.
More on the committee removals from the Cincinnati Enquirer here.
Now, as debate rages over the bill on the state Senate floor at this very moment, Seitz and Oelslager are among four Republicans who say they’ll vote against Kasich’s measure barring all unionized state employees from bargaining for benefits or going on strike. The Democratic minority, which is unified against the proposal, needs three more Republicans to come their way to defeat the law.
That seems unlikely to happen, but the committee removals earlier today have given union supporters in Ohio a new line of attack: Kasich’s bill is too conservative for even the members of his own party.
As an SEIU spokesperson told TPM, the booting of Oelslager and Seitz suggests the plan is “an extreme partisan attack” that will alienate Ohio’s electorate.
Kasich and his allies have said the changes to collective bargaining are needed to keep the state out of a fiscal hole and say the law is not about union-busting as critics have alleged.
Late Update: The Ohio State Senate has passed the measure by a vote of 17-16 - read more here.