Ohio Senate Passes Bill to Muzzle Public Unions

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The Ohio Senate has approved a bill that weakens the bargaining powers of public unions. Gov. John Kasich, (R), said it's a key step toward tackling the state's budget problems.

The measure now goes to the Republican-controlled State House where it's expected to pass, then go to the governor's desk for Kasich's signature.

The measure trims the union bargaining rights of 350,000 teachers, firefighters, police officers and other public employees. The bill is similar to the one in Wisconsin, which sparked huge protests and a national debate.

Strikes would be banned and penalties established for those who participate in walkouts under the proposed law. Unionized workers could only negotiate wages, hours, and certain work conditions. However, benefits including health care, sick time, and pensions would be non-negotiable.

"It's a fair bill," said Ohio Senate President Tom Niehaus, a southwest Ohio Republican. "It's more balanced and fair for the taxpayer whose money these elected officials will ultimately spend."

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