HJR1 and other state bills harmful to union members

Posted Mar. 22, 2023 by

Hearings held on state bills that could harm freedoms of union members

House Joint Resolution 1

As we’ve anticipated, House Joint Resolution 1 (HJR 1) had its first hearing on Wednesday, March 22 at 9 a.m. at the Ohio Statehouse. This resolution would undermine our ability to get citizen’s initiatives (Like Senate Bill 5) on the ballot.

Many of you remember Senate Bill 5, the anti-union bill that would have stripped us of our rights to collectively bargain. Some of you went door to door with us to get signatures. You rallied at the Statehouse. You marched to the Secretary of State’s Office with tens of thousands of signatures. You sat in hearings. And you talked to as many people as you could to defeat that measure at the ballot box. And we did it!

Now, House Joint Resolution 1 would undermine our ability to bring citizen-led initiatives to the ballot. HJR 1 is unfair, undemocratic, and unnecessary. It makes it harder for us to have the freedom to voice our concerns on matters--such as our collective bargaining rights––via a citizen ballot initiative.

In fact, HJR1 ends majority rule in Ohio by requiring ballot measures pass by a super majority or 60 percent. That means 41 percent of voters, a small amount, can block initiatives that a majority want. That shreds our constitution and takes away the people’s right to decide what happens.

Stay tuned for more information here and on our social media pages about that hearing.

Senate Bill 83

Besides trying to roll back our rights to the ballot box, a new bill aimed at Ohio’s institutions of higher education takes aim at public employee collective bargaining rights. Senate Bill 83 would prohibit any state university employees represented by a collective bargaining agreement to go on strike. That bill is expected to have a hearing today as well and is yet another example of Ohio’s State Legislature putting public employee union members in their crosshairs.

Public university employees have been organizing for decades in this state and are represented by unions as diverse as the FOP, Ohio Education Association, Ohio Federation of Teachers, American Association of University Professors, SEIU 1199, Teamsters, UAW, OAPSE, AFSCME Ohio Council 8, CWA, Operating Engineers and many more. Union members in Ohio’s colleges and universities are not just professors and instructors, but secretaries, maintenance workers, security personnel and many others. The right to strike is a fundamental right of union members, and even though it is rarely used, this is clearly another attack on public employee union members in Ohio.

Another bill, introduced earlier this year, Senate Bill 47, takes up the issue of union leaves and would prohibit anyone from lobbying (or presumably even talking to) the State Legislature about issues regarding their work or their collective bargaining rights while on union leave. This is a clear violation of our activists’ first amendment rights. No hearing on that bill has been scheduled.