One of the provisions in the bill deals with layoffs and seniority and contains language (in multiple places) stating:
When a reduction in force is necessary, the (governmental entity) shall not use an employee's length of service as the only factor to determine whether to lay off the employee.
This means that all public sector union employees will first be judged on their performance and value to an organization - not how long they've been employed - and if you're a newer employee who does a good job, you have a better chance of keeping your job now that S.B. 5 has passed.
Quite some time ago, as host of WSPD's Eye On Toledo show, I interviewed Toledo Police Patrolman's Association President Dan Wagner during a time when the city was considering laying off police. The city was asking for cuts and the TPPA was opposing them. I asked him: if it came down to layoffs for some of his members versus an across-the-board cut, which would his members choose? His reply was probably one of the most honest statements ever made by a union president: "Sadly, I think they'd choose the layoffs."
This, to me, goes against the entire 'one-for-all' attitude that I thought unions were supposed to embrace. They certainly tout the 'collective' nature of their organization and relationship, until it comes to certain issues like layoffs versus cuts. In the end, the people in the union who 'have' will sacrifice the newer members in order to keep what they've got. Dan told me later he knew I'd never let him forget that statement, but it's nothing he should be sorry for saying - though he might be sorry his members thought that way.
But with the passage of S.B. 5, that issue goes away. Now, public employees don't have to worry about how long they've been employed; they only have to worry about their performance and their value to the city. This, alone, is reason enough for union members to love S.B. 5.
The consequence of this change in decision-making cannot be overlooked. Without the guarantee of seniority, unions may find their members are more willing to consider across-the-board cuts than they were in the past. If the older members have no assurances that they will keep their jobs, they'll be less confident in risking actual layoffs, making them more amenable to other solutions such as concessions and cuts.
This is good for the taxpayer and it removes the ever-present gamesmanship of politicians who always threaten the most untenable of layoffs (in police and fire) when they face budgetary decisions they don't want to make or when they have tax increases on the ballot they want to pass.
Additionally, S.B. 5 makes the layoff process easier for cities. Since most unions have 'bumping' rights (a data entry person laid off, for example, in the police records bureau, has the right to 'bump' a less-senior person in the data entry section of the tax department), cities will no longer have to worry about the musical chairs and the headaches of such a process.
But this issue isn't final - yet. Democrats and unions are already mobilizing to take the matter to the voters by putting the law on the ballot as a referendum. They've got plenty of time to organize their supporters, but I don't know that they'll find much success on election day.
The state switched from Democrat control to Republican during the last election despite the spending by unions. The people in office now were put there with the expectation that they would address the out-of-control spending and the huge unfunded obligations the states have. A majority spoke last November and they're not likely to change their minds so quickly, especially if the state office holders continue to do what they were elected to do.
And not all union members are Democrats. I know, that's a hard fact to comprehend in light of the perception union leaders and Democrats advance, but it's true. And even some of the union members who are Democrats are not always in favor of the way their unions operate - especially if they're the new member who was at risk of losing their job simply because of a calendar.
While I won't underestimate the ability to get the matter on the ballot - or the mobilization of their supporters - I don't believe the unions have the support of the majority of Ohioans in this regard, otherwise, we wouldn't have the bill in the first place.