Ohio unions one step away from limited rights

Ohio Statehouse

Thanks to one vote, the fight to dramatically limit the rights of unionized public workers in Ohio is all but over.

On Wednesday, the Ohio Senate approved new language drafted by the house for Senate Bill 5. After a vote of 17 to 16, the bill will now go to the desk of Gov. John Kasich, who is expected to sign it by the end of the week.

The House earlier cleared the measure cleared on a 53-44 vote.

The bill, which affects 350,000 safety workers, teachers, nurses and a host of other government personnel, has sparked weeks of pro-labor protests across the state. It allows unions to negotiate wages and certain job conditions but not health care, sick time or pension benefits. It also does away with automatic pay increases in favor of merit raises and prohibits strikes.

Republicans have argued that some union workers who have government jobs make more money and have better benefits than workers doing similar jobs in the private sector.

Kasich says his $55.5 billion, two-year state budget counts on unspecified savings from lifting union protections to fill an $8 billion hole.