Labor protest planned against Senate Bill 5 in Middletown

An Ohio Legislative Committee has approved the measure to limit collective bargaining rights for about 350,000 public workers.

This delivers a blow to those unions in how they collect certain fees.

The Republican-controlled House Commerce and Labor Committee voted 9 to 6 along party lines to recommend Senate Bill 5 after making more than 12 changes to the legislation that was earlier approved by the Senate.

Jail time has been completely removed as a possible penalty for workers who participate in strikes.

Also, public workers can negotiate over equipment.

Non-union employees affected by any type of previous contracts will not have to pay fees to union organizations.

And no longer can automatic deductions be taken from employee paychecks to go towards union fees.

There is a protest planned for Thursday on SB-5 in Middletown. How's this going to impact the Mayor's State of the City address, which is also that night?

Organizers say they plan to start on-time at 5:15 p.m. and end around 5:45 p.m. Mayor Larry Mulligan's speech is not expected to start until 6 p.m.

But they hope to send a message to the Mayor and to the state that the people will still have a say on SB-5 this Fall.

"We've not satisfied everybody," said Republican Representative Joe Uecker. "We're not going to satisfy everybody as you can well imagine, a process of this magnitude, but we think we have addressed a number of concerns."

Committee members made about a dozen changes to SB-5.

"It's an atrocity," said Democratic Representative Matt Szollosi. "And the changes, as hard as it is for me to believe, they've actually made the bill worse."

The Committee's move is triggering reaction state-wide.

"It's not about money," said Barry Carver, who is a union maintenance worker. "It's about a power thing, to break the back of the union this is just the first step."

Labor unions and workers in Middletown plan to make their voices heard Thursday, right before Mayor Larry Mulligan's State of the City address and the expected passage of Ohio Senate Bill 5 this week.

"The goal, the idea here is to solely draw attention to the fact that the Mayor is more supportive of corporate CEO's and Wall Street-minded individuals," said Middletown Councilman AJ Smith. "Than he is middle and working class families."

Smith says he will be among those protesting Thursday.

"As a Council person and a resident of Middletown, I do respect the Mayor's office," Smith said. And he plans on attending the State of the City address, right after the protest.

"And I think it's exceptionally important that voters across the city of Middletown realize, that he does not support their middle class and working class values. Instead he'd much rather be the lapdog for Governor Kasich and corporate CEO's and I just think that's wrong."

In an interview with FOX19 last February, involving the Sun Coke Plant, Mayor Mulligan at least sounded like a friend to unions and labor.

"We're looking to see those unions get to work and have a real positive impact on our employment base," Mulligan said in that interview.

"The mayor is not pro-union," Smith said.

Smith said labor across the state is ready to mobilize and get a referendum on the ballot in the Fall.

"Yes, the people will absolutely have a say via this referendum," Smith said. "Absolutely when it goes to the ballot box."

Protesters will gather at 5:15 p.m., at the Pendleton Art Center on Central Avenue in Middletown.

We do not know yet if Mayor Mulligan will address the Bill in his speech or not. We did place a call to the Mayor on his cell phone, but did not hear back from him by news time.

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