Ohio to vote on collective bargaining

Poll worker Eugene Salvatore looks over names of registered voters at a polling place in Clague Cabin November 4, 2008 in Westlake, Ohio.

Jeremy Hobson: Today Ohio voters will say yes or no
to the state's new law limiting the collective bargaining rights of public workers. A state ballot initiative seeks to repeal the law, which affects more than 350,000 unionized government employees.

Marketplace's Nancy Marshall-Genzer reports.


Nancy Marshall-Genzer: Supporters of the law are using TV ads to paint public workers as fat cats.

TV ad: It's not right that hard-working Ohioans have sacrificed, yet still have to foot the bill for government workers' gold-plated health benefits and automatic pay raises.

Government workers are supposed to get automatic raises, but many gave them up this year because of Ohio's tough economy. In general, the state's workers do have good benefits. But they accepted lower salaries in return.

John Green teaches political science at the University of Akron.

John Green: The overall package may be really pretty good compared to the private sector. But there's a different mix of salary, wages and benefits.

Harley Shaiken is a labor economist at Berkeley. He says the issue is more than just public sector pay and benefits, because the law puts strict limits on whether government employees can negotiate their working conditions.

Harley Shaiken: I think at the end of the day, the referendum is about the basic right to have a union, and to negotiate.

This issue isn't confined to Ohio -- Wisconsin has passed a similar law, and other states are watching closely.

In Washington, I'm Nancy Marshall Genzer for Marketplace.

About the author

Nancy Marshall-Genzer is a senior reporter for Marketplace based in Washington, D.C. covering daily news.

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