Call this “We Are Ohio” Lie #4902.
Doug Stern is a Cincinnati firefighter who is opposed to Issue 2’s reasonable reforms. He is so opposed, that he appeared in a “We Are Ohio” commerical. As a firefighter, Mr. Stern has my respect. But that doesn’t give him license to lie to the public about the tax-payer funded benefits he receives.
He has a problem with the part of the bill that states that government employees must pay 15% of their health insurance premiums. Why? Because he says he already pays more than that, so the law isn’t necessary.
“They’re reforms that are completely and utterly unnecessary,” said Stern at We Are Ohio’s kickoff event yesterday morning in Cincinnati.
Stern said that as a Cincinnati firefighter, he also pays 20 percent toward his health-care premiums. A 2011 survey by the State Employment Relations Board showed that, on average, public employees are paying between 9.5 and 11 percent of their health-care premiums.
He told the Youngstown Business Journal the same thing.
“That would be wonderful if we could get back” to paying 15% on health insurance, he added, pointing out that he pays 20% in Cincinnati.
And the Toledo Blade, too.
Mr. Stern said it’s not true that unions have been unwilling to negotiate. He said he and his fellow firefighters pay 20 percent of their health insurance in Cincinnati and haven’t had a pay raise in two years.
As with so many of We Are Ohio’s claims, its a lie. The Columbus Dispatch reported that Cincinnati firefighters actually only pay 5%, and issued a correction.
Cincinnati firefighters pay 5 percent of their health-insurance premiums. Because of incorrect information provided to The Dispatch, a story on Page B1 of Wednesday’s Metro & State section included a different percentage.
This is a person that We Are Ohio is putting forward as a spokesman. He is featured in their commercial and speaks at their campaign stops. And he has been outright lying about the facts of the matter.
And that’s not the only thing he has lied about. He also told reporters that the bill would prevent them from getting good safety equipment.
One of Senate Bill 5’s provisions excludes safety equipment issues from being covered during collective bargaining. “It is in the bill that we can talk about it. We can talk till we’re blue in the face about safety equipment but that is not negotiation. There’s no teeth behind that talk,” Stern said.
Stern cited an incident a few years back in Xenia, where firefighters’ request to replace 10-year-old fire gear, as mandated by their contract, was opposed by a council member who was looking out for his “pet projects” and his own interests. “He wasn’t going to save that money to put it toward more staffing or better equipment. He was going to use it for a project that would help him get reelected,” Stern said.
Stern has it backwards. Senate Bill 5 explicitly gives firefighters the ability to collectively bargain for safety equipment. They don’t even have that power under current law!
But why let the truth get in the way of your narrative, right? Mr. Stern knows that as a firefighter, he automatically has a sense of goodwill and trust from the general public. We Are Ohio knows this, which is why they feature firefighters in so many of their ads.
Mr. Stern is abusing that trust when he goes out and directly lies to the public about this issue. We Are Ohio should be ashamed of taking advantage of and abusing that public trust. It’s sad that they aren’t.
We can’t believe a thing the unions are telling us about this issue. Make sure you get out and vote YES on Issue 2.