On Nov. 8, Ohioans will vote on Issue 2, a referendum on Gov. John Kasich’s (R-OH) wildly unpopular anti-worker measure Senate Bill 5. Most of the rancor against the law stems from it’s unfair elimination of public employees’ rights to collective bargain over health coverage and working conditions.
But the bill is more than an attack on teachers, police officers, and firefighters. It’s an attack on veterans, too. As the American Independent reports, Ohio law before SB5 ensured veterans who become teachers had a level playing field by allowing them to count their active duty service towards tenure. SB 5 eliminated that provision:
Currently, veterans hired as public school teachers in Ohio can count every eight consecutive months of active duty military service towards one year of tenure in the classroom, for up to a maximum of five years. Doing so provides a minor bump in salary for veterans that go into the education field.
For some veterans, it can amount to up to $2,000 in annual salary, according to Roberts. The extra pay is designed to encourage veterans to enter the field and, for those who do, to level the playing field with their colleagues that had the opportunity to gain experience while servicemembers were active.
“They missed out on going into that career field because they were serving their country at that point. That’s really what it’s all about,” said [We Are Ohio's Zack] Roberts. “Veterans Preference is really about nothing more than giving a veteran an equal opportunity.”
If SB5 is not repealed, that provision of existing Ohio law would be removed.
The law also jeopardizes National Guard or Reserves members who are public employees because, without union collective bargaining rights, “those teachers, firefighters and police officers deployed overseas could have to worry about their families transitioning to a new health-care plan.” Before SB5, unions could ensure that soldiers could return to the exact position that they left. Under SB5, that may disappear too.
Ohio is home to nearly 1 million veterans. That is why one Iraq and Afghanistan War veteran Paul Worley decided to campaign against the law. “We want veterans working these public sector jobs because they know what self-sacrifice is,” he said. “They’ve seen things and done things and had training that the average citizen hasn’t.” Ohio’s laws should promote — not devalue — those skills.