CLEVELAND - With Election Day in Ohio less than one month away, the campaigning is heating up over Issue 2, the controversial law that would limit collective bargaining rights for 350,000 public workers.
On Monday, local union leaders representing police officers accused Ohio Gov. John Kasich and supporters of Issue 2 of spreading lies about how much public employees pay towards their pensions and health insurance.
"From day one, this thing has been nothing but trickery," said Steve Loomis, the president of the Cleveland Police Patrolman's Association.
An advertisement on the website Building a Better Ohio indicates, "Issue two asks government employees to help by paying 10 percent for their guaranteed pension and at least 15 percent for their health care insurance.'
Loomis insists the vast majority of pubic employees already do that.
"The fact of the matter is 94 percent of the public employees in the state of Ohio meet or exceed those thresholds," Loomis said.
Terry Gallagher, the executive director of the Ohio Patrolman's Benevolent Association, said Kasich is trying to mislead Ohio voters about the contributions his members make, while ignoring concessions that officers have already made, including furloughs and wage freezes in some departments.
"Our members know that cities and counties are facing financial challanges. That is why we have agreed to concessions. Our members are committed to protecting the people they serve," Gallagher said.
But supporters of Issue 2, formerly known as Senate Bill 5, believe many local government employees have not been paying their fair share and a "yes" vote would help get costs under controls for many cities.
"We have, in the private sector, folks paying 30 percent for their healthcare, if they have it, and (they have) a 401K, not a guaranteed pension," said Connie Wherkamp, a spokesperson for Building a Better Ohio.
If Issue 2 passes, the collective bargaining rights would be restricted for the state's public workers. For example, health care costs would no longer be negotiated.
Michele Pomerantz, the director of political action for Cleveland Teacher's Union, said bargaining for safety rights would also disappear.
"It would prohibit teachers from talking to administrators about safe classroom levels. The teacher that's leading the classroom and spending six hours a day with your children should have the opportunity to have the voice that speaks out for what's best for your children," Pomerantz said.