Kasich: Provisions force nurses, others to unionize

Gov.-elect says he will rescind two executive orders signed by Strickland.

“I don’t like that provision. That executive order is probably toast. We will reverse that,” Kasich said.

He said he believed the order giving collective bargaining rights to independent home health-care workers forced nurses and others to unionize and pay dues when they don’t want to do so.

AFSCME Council 8 General Counsel Sean Grayson says the order does not force unionization, but sets up a process for workers to decide by secret ballot.

In two big wins for organized labor, Strickland signed an order in July 2007 establishing collective bargaining for home healthcare workers and another order in February 2008 for child-care home providers.

AFSCME Council 8 now represents roughly 7,000 independent childcare workers who provide in-home care and are reimbursed with state and federal welfare money. If Kasich rescinds the executive order, the union still has a binding, multiyear collective bargaining agreement, said Grayson. The council has about 50,000 members in Ohio, including the child-care workers.

The Service Employees International Union District 1199 organized 7,000 health care workers who provide in-home nursing and aide services and are paid with state and federal funds. Their union contract with the state expires in 2012.

The additional workers boost SEIU’s Ohio membership to 25,000 members.

“We are disappointed that the governor-elect would make such rash decisions without first meeting with long-term care stakeholders and having a clear understanding of the positive impact Ohio’s Independent Home Care Providers Union has made on the community,” said SEIU District 1199 President Becky Williams.

Through executive orders, Strickland also banned spending government money offshore, prohibited state workers from restraining people in a dangerous prone position, and took steps to make sure the state wasn’t buying clothes from sweatshops. And before he leaves office, he is expected to use an executive order to establish a rule banning the sale and import of exotic animals.

Strickland signed 104 executive orders, most of which expired or will expire by the end of his term on Jan. 9. Two orders due to sunset establish ethics requirements for state employees and ban discrimination in state employment based on sexual orientation or gender identity.

Kasich said his staff is reviewing the orders and declined comment on any specific ones aside from two establishing collective bargaining.

Former Democratic Gov. Richard Celeste was the first to issue an order banning discrimination in state employment based on sexual orientation. Republican Gov. George Voinovich continued the policy, Republican Bob Taft rescinded it, and Strickland renewed it.

Kim Welter of Equality Ohio, a statewide gay-rights advocacy group, said she is cautiously optimistic that Kasich will sign a similar order. “I do know people who work for the state who felt much more comfortable in their jobs once that executive order was signed by Gov. Strickland,” she added.

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