As reported by the New York Times, On Thursday, March 31, 2011, the State of Ohio passed a law that is more restrictive on the collective bargaining rights of Public Safety Officers than the law that was passed in Wisconsin several weeks ago.  

While both laws severely limit public employees’ ability to bargain collectively — they both prohibit any bargaining over health coverage and pensions — the Ohio law largely eliminates bargaining for the police and firefighters whereas Wisconsin’s law leaves those two groups’ bargaining rights untouched. Ohio’s law also gives city councils and school boards a free hand to unilaterally impose their side’s final contract offer when management and a union fail to reach a settlement.  Implementation of a final offer by management is permitted in private sector collective bargaining but was previously not permitted in the public sector.

Notwithstanding the differences in legislation, the push by those states’ Republican governors and Republican-dominated legislatures points to a pendulum swing away from what many unions and Democrats see as a fundamental right for public employees: the right to bargain over wages and benefits.

While New Jersey’s Governor, Chris Christie, has stated that he does not have any intentions on abolishing Public Safety Officers’ rights to collectively bargain, he has already taken steps to eliminate premium cost sharing of health care benefits as a subject that is mandatorily negotiable.  Furthermore, he has also stated that he is looking forward to engaging in "adversarial" negotiations with public employee labor unions as contracts are now expiring.

To read the entire New York Times article regarding the Ohio law, click here.