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Ohio bill curbing union rights passes state Senate

From NBC's John Yang and Stephanie Himango
COLUMBUS, Ohio -- There has been a lot of focus on Wisconsin's Republican governor's efforts to strip public workers of their collective-bargaining rights, but in Ohio, a bill that curbs union rights passed the state Senate on a narrow 17-16 vote with six Republicans defecting and voting against it.

The Ohio House, which has a 54-40 Republican majority, is expected to take up the bill next week.

The Ohio bill would allow collective bargaining, but only for wages, hours, and terms and conditions of employment. Police and fire unions complain it would eliminate collective bargaining for protective gear, such as body armor.

The most controversial element among moderate Republicans appears to be a new procedure for dispute resolution, replacing binding arbitration, which Gov. John Kasich (R) vowed to eliminate during this campaign. If a union and the state or a local government are unable to reach an agreement, the ultimate arbiter would be the government's legislative body -- the state legislature, the city council or the township board. The lone Republican who voted against the bill in the Senate committee Wednesday morning said that provision gave too much power to government employers.

The bill would also:

-- Ban public worker strikes and establish heavy fines for workers who do go on strike
-- Do away with automatic cost-of-living increases in contracts, basing all pay on merit
-- Eliminates seniority as the factor in determining the order of layoffs

Following the vote, about 100 protestors gathered in the atrium of the Senate wing of the Ohio Statehouse, chanting, "Shame on you!"