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One month ago Ohio voted with its heart against reforms portrayed as an attack on public workers. Ohio, DC, and New York union bosses spent more than $30 million drenching the airwaves in images of sad firefighters, sad police officers, and evil Republicans, convincing voters to overlook a broken status quo.
The reforms in Issue 2 would’ve helped localities control health & pension costs, ended last-in-first-out layoffs, instituted merit pay, and equipped elected leaders with some flexibility at the expense of union bosses. Good thing we avoided that miserable fate!
True to form, Trumka insists the problem is Governor Kasich’s refusal to embrace failed “stimulus” spending. Pay no attention to the dishonest class-warriors siphoning millions from government workers behind the curtain.
The sun will keep rising in the east, and union apologists will continue blaming local budget troubles on reduced state spending. It’s true that Governor Kasich cut spending to cover a deficit estimated at $8 billion when Governor Strickland left office. It’s also true that the Progressive solution is Obamanomics at the state level: out-of-control unions, bigger government, and higher taxes to pay for both.
Firefighters are about to see some of their public support go up in smoke.
They can thank their Cleveland counterparts for this.
Firefighters were the most prominent face of the successful campaign against Senate Bill 5, the now-dead collective bargaining law that would have stripped them and other public employees of significant negotiating power. Based on the November elections results, voters sided with firefighters, believing they should be left alone.
A recent audit and expanding investigation into Cleveland firefighters' timesheets and pay records suggest they need to be watched. The audit shows the fire department doesn't pay close attention to rules that allow firefighters to easily trade work shifts, take time off for funerals and call in sick. The result is a system that is being abused by at least a handful of firefighters.
One Cleveland firefighter, for instance, manipulated his schedule so he could commute from California. Another stacked his work schedule to allow him to vacation during the winter months. A couple of them got paid for more time than they worked.
I'm not ready to write this off simply as the consequence of sloppy paperwork or just a problem with a few firefighters. The larger culture and "past practices" deserves blame for enabling this.
But no one can argue that the rule was established to allow a firefighter such as Andrew Kovacic to do no work from Nov. 5, 2010 through March of this year. Nor was it designed to allow him to make up his time by working 24-hour shifts for 18 days during a three-week stretch in August. Firefighters who accept such a perverse use of the trade rule defeat their main argument that firefighters need rest between shifts for their own safety, the safety of their crew, and the safety of residents.