Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine’s budget management director, Kimberly Murnieks, is asking government unions to work out a plan to cut personnel costs by June 15 — in addition to seeking hiring freezes and pay cuts of up to 4 percent for state employees.
The Freedom Foundation has been asking DeWine and his administration to look toward the unions, which take tens of millions from Ohioans every year, for possible opportunities that can help our state climb out of the multi-billion dollar hole that resulted from the COVID-19 pandemic.
The time has come for government unions to do some self-reflection on their spending, and although Ohio is fortunate enough to have a rainy day fund to pull from during this time, Freedom Foundation believes cost cutting by government unions should be sustained even after our economic recovery.
Government unions are solely funded by the dues they collect from government employees, thus making government cost taxpayers more. These unions are expensive and too many millions of dollars are directed to efforts that do not support workers and their families.
Government unions such as the Ohio Civil Service Employee Association (OCSEA)/AFSCME Local 11 collected more than $14 million in 2018, of which nearly $5 million was sent out of state.
Additionally, the union’s financial disclosure filing listed $115,000 on meeting expenses, $97,000 spent on hotels and $110,000 spent on an international convention. That’s a lot of money not going to our state’s families and communities.
Let’s take a look at the Ohio Education Association (OEA) and its spending of last year’s dues, which totaled a whopping $52 million.
In 2019 alone, OEA sent nearly $20 million of the total dues collected out of state to the National Education Association.
OEA also spent $4 million on political contributions, gave nearly $2 million to outside organizations, spent $847,814 on airfare, hotels and travel, and paid more than $665,000 to seven of its twelve employees.
Over the past three months, government workers have had to adapt by working from home, while many others have been furloughed or even let go. For those fortunate enough to continue receiving paychecks, their unions never stopped holding their hands out every payday, and in fact took home more than $60 million in the past twelve weeks.
Did the unions ever offer to suspend dues collection in an effort to help their members?
No. In fact, the Freedom Foundation received reports from those who opted out of OCSEA/AFSCME Local 11 that they were still being forced to pay dues to their designated union.
Adding insult to that injury during the pandemic, numerous corrections officers informed us that the union handed out grocery store gift cards to its members — with the exception of current dues-paying nonmembers.
The union essentially punished those who opted out of membership, even though it still forces them to hand over their hard-earned money, and rewarded those who remained members.
Government union greed knows no limits, and it’s high time they are expected to step up and help with the economic recovery. Personnel costs must be addressed, but union bosses must also take a hard look at their spending over the next few weeks and come up with ways to ease the burden on taxpayers rather than fill their own slush funds.
A whopping 1.3 million Ohioans have filed for unemployment since the pandemic reached our state, all the while, unions never batted an eye at the hit our communities, businesses and families have been enduring.
In these days of stress and uncertainty, the Freedom Foundation will be watching unions closely. Will these unions, which pride themselves on their politicking, continue cutting checks for left-leaning politicians? Will their six-figure salaried executives accept the same pay cuts as the state?
One thing is for sure: Now it’s their turn to bite the same bullet as so many businesses and families have.