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Ohio Gov. Strips Home Care Workers of Collective Bargaining Rights

May 28, 2015

Ohio Gov. John Kasich (R) stripped thousands of independent home health care workers of their right to collectively bargain with the state for better wages and benefits in an executive order (pdf) signed on May 22.

The workers, who are represented by Service Employees International Union (SEIU), initially received the right to collectively bargain through a 2007 executive order (pdf) signed by then Gov. Ted Strickland (D). The approximately 7,000 home health workers are under contract with the state to provide in-home care services, but are designated as independent contractors.

In his executive order, Kasich asserted that collective bargaining was no longer necessary because of the existence of the 2010 Affordable Care Act.

Since 2007, he wrote, “health care insurance has become widely available through other means, such as the federal health insurance exchanges and Medicaid.”

“Union membership is no longer one of the few, accessible ways for these contractors to potentially obtain health care insurance,” he continued.

In an SEIU press release, independent home care Amy Hurd reacted to Kasich’s executive order. “It feels like [he] doesn’t understand the needs of seniors and people with disabilities,” she said. “Why else would he want to eliminate our work, slash our pay, and silence our voice?”

Democrats in the Republican-controlled Ohio legislature said they would attempt to restore collective bargaining rights by attaching an amendment to the next state budget, the Associated Press reported on May 26.

Kasich’s executive order also eliminated collective bargaining rights for the estimated 2,700 child care workers affiliated with the American Federation of State, County, and Municipal Employees. Strickland had granted their collective bargaining rights in 2008.

Kasich promised to rescind both of Strickland’s executive orders as he prepared to take office in 2010, the Columbus Dispatch reported. Kasich is reportedly considering a run for president.

— by Matthew Ozga

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