City and state police union officials want to stop Senate Bill 5 from speeding through the Ohio Legislature without being properly considered.
“Collective bargaining has been in existence for nearly three decades and now they want to get rid of it in a short period of time? asked Bill Saringer, the Region 8 trustee for the Ohio Fraternal Order of Police. “It doesn’t make sense to try and jam it through this fast.”
Saringer, a North Olmsted patrolman and K-9 officer, said legislation which affects this many safety workers as well as the state residents they protect deserves a full and fair hearing.
“They need to give all the people affected by this a proper chance to state their views,” he said. “I don’t believe they should see collective bargaining as such a threat.”
Saringer was one of a group of police officers who met with state Senator Gayle Manning Friday to present their views on the Bill.
“She was receptive to listening to our views,” he said.
State FOP Vice President Gary Wolske said group officials are afraid basic workplace fairness provisions would be removed for Ohio police and firefighters if Senate Bill 5 passes.
“They seem very determined to get this bill passed in a hurry,” Wolske, a Garfield Heights lieutenant, said. “With something of this importance, they should make sure there is enough discussion. There are a lot of people who are concerned about the outcome of all of this.”
Wolske noted that FOP members around the state are talking to senators around the state, such as Manning, who are seen as uncommitted on the bill at this point. They also working on getting information to citizens’ in those areas. On Saturday, area FOP members were in Manning’s district passing out a flyer printed by Protect Ohio Protectors, a group which supports state police and firefighters in their work.
Lt. Mike Kilbane, the union representative for the North Olmsted Police supervisors, questioned the need for doing away for collective bargaining.
“I would say it certainly works for both sides,” he said. “It provides protections for the employees. But it certainly allows for cities to have the opportunity to seek better agreements with the bargaining units if there is a need.”
He cited the last agreement between the city of North Olmsted in which the police and firefighters each gave up 10 percent in assorted salary and benefits when the city said it was in financial trouble, even after laying five members of each safety force.
“They got that done with in the existing contract, which has the collective bargaining provisions in place. I don’t see why there is a need to try and do away with it when they have the ability under existing codes to seek and get those kinds of agreements.”
Police union officials said they will be watching the bill closely this week and that they would continue to try and express their concerns.