Ohio asks public-sector labor unions to meet with state officials on reducing personnel costs

On June 2, Kimberly Murnieks, Director of Ohio’s Office of Budget and Management, announced that the state is asking unions representing state workers to meet with officials to discuss reducing personnel costs. The move comes as the state faces an estimated $2.5 billion decrease in anticipated revenues. Murnieks also announced that the state would be reducing the salaries of non-union workers.

Budget background and salary cuts for non-union state workers

On March 22, Gov. Mike DeWine (R) and Amy Acton, Director of the Ohio Department of Health, issued a stay-at-home order, which directed residents to remain at home and closed or otherwise restricted the operations of non-essential businesses. This reduced income and sales tax receipts, which make up the bulk of the state’s revenues. As a result, budget officials now expect that state revenues in the 2020-2021 fiscal year will come in at $2.5 billion less than originally forecasted. The stay-at-home order expired on May 19.

Murnieks announced that approximately 16,000 non-union state workers will see salary reductions averaging out to a 3.8 percent cut. Actual salary reduction amounts will vary between groups of employees (for example, state cabinet directors will see a 4 percent reduction in pay). Murnieks estimates that this will save the state approximately $138 million.

What are the reactions?

DeWine said, “We’re trying to be as transparent and open with our employees as we are with the people of Ohio. The amount of money, the chunk of money set aside for the employees looking at that [3 percent] raise, that money’s not going to be there. We can’t print money in Ohio. We have to balance the budget. We intend to do that. We also have other obligations.”

Chris Mabe, president of the Ohio Civil Service Employees Association (OCSEA), said, “We have had numerous conversations with the state about cost savings during this crisis. We’ve talked to them about voluntary cost-savings days, reigning in expensive contractors, restructuring management teams and saving money through long-term telework. But in times of crisis, Ohioans need public services the most. Now is the time for the administration to use the Rainy Day Fund for what it was intended: emergencies such as this.”

What comes next?

The state has asked public-sector labor unions to submit their suggestions about cutting personnel costs by June 15. The 2020-2021 fiscal year begins July 1.

What we’ve been reading

The big picture

Number of relevant bills by state

We are currently tracking 96 pieces of legislation dealing with public-sector employee union policy. On the map below, a darker shade of green indicates a greater number of relevant bills. Click here for a complete list of all the bills we’re tracking.

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Number of relevant bills by current legislative status

Union Station status chart June 5, 2020.png

Number of relevant bills by partisan status of sponsor(s)

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Recent legislative actions

Below is a complete list of relevant legislative actions taken since our last issue.

  • California AB3096: Existing law prohibits public employers from deterring or discouraging public employees or applicants from becoming or remaining union members. This bill would extend that provision to the University of California.
    • Democratic sponsorship.
    • Ordered to a third reading June 4.
  • California SB1173: Existing law requires public employers to provide unions with contact information for all employees within the bargaining unit. Existing law also requires that public employers provide unions with contact information for new employees within 30 days of hire. This bill would impose liability on employers who violate these provisions three or more times in a 12-month period.
    • Democratic sponsorship.
    • Senate Appropriations Committee hearing scheduled for June 9.
  • Massachusetts H4744: This bill would make it unlawful to file a civil action against any union for advising its members of their right to refuse to work “because of an abnormally dangerous condition at the place of employment.”
    • Bipartisan sponsorship.
    • Joint Judiciary Committee hearing (written testimony only) June 5.
  • Massachusetts S2700: This bill would make it unlawful to file a civil action against any union for advising its members of their right to refuse to work “because of an abnormally dangerous condition at the place of employment.”
    • Bipartisan sponsorship.
    • Joint Judiciary Committee hearing (written testimony only) June 5.



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