By James J. Brudney, the Newton D. Baker-Baker & Hostetler Chair in Law, Ohio State University, Moritz College of Law
Ohio’s new law on collective bargaining, (Senate Bill 5) eviscerates rights for teachers, police, firefighters, and other public employees, rights that have been in place since 1983. In order to understand how this has happened, it makes sense to start with the question why should we care? Does access to collective bargaining really matter to us as Americans, beyond those workers who are represented by unions?
The short answer is an emphatic Yes. Collective bargaining is important to us as a nation for several reasons. First, there is our economic welfare. The growth of collective bargaining promotes a fairer distribution of resources and enhances mass purchasing power. For teachers, police, firefighters, health care workers, and others, it helps create and maintain a robust middle class. A sizable middle class enables these millions of Americans to contribute to economic well-being for the rest of us, by purchasing consumer goods, investing in higher education for their children, buying homes, taking family vacations, etc.
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