Recently, MSNBC’s Ed Schultz and White House reporter Tommy Christopher attacked Andrew Breitbart and myself for a “failed ambush” after I released Project Mayhem, Part II, which included video in which I broke the first rule of Project Mayhem, and asked Schultz how Ohio Senate Bill 5 allegedly takes away union rights to bargain on safety, which he and his panel contended, when it specifically does the opposite.
Recounting this in a subsequent broadcast, calling me part of a “goon squad,” Schultz explained that “after the show, one of Andrew Breitbart’s lackeys ambushed me.”
First of all, I did not “ambush” him; I asked him for a few moments of his time for an interview and he agreed. Perhaps I should from now on duck, cover and scream “Help!” every time some Greenpeace member asks me if I have a moment for the environment.
Apparently Schultz’s definition of the term “ambush” is any consensual interview in which specific questions are asked which don’t comfortably warrant platitudinal answers. (By this rationale, most questions towards President Obama regarding specific language in Obamacare are ripe for secret service intervention.)
Schultz continued: “It wasn’t a scheduled interview he just came up and started talking.”
Actually we did schedule it. I asked, “Hi Mr. Schultz, can I ask you a few questions for the people of Ohio?” He said, “Sure.” So I began. I assumed by “sure” he meant “right now is fine,” as opposed to “call my assistant, she knows my schedule this week better than I do.”
In the interview, I pointed out to him that “the bill under Section 4117.08 actually gives the right to unions to be bargain on safety which the Democrat bill of 1983 didn’t.” His response was “that’s not what the firefighters are telling me,” to which I said, “But the bill says so.”
… And it still does. As the author of the bill Shannon Jones advised Schultz in my earlier video, “Reading is fundamental.” In response to the video release, Schultz admitted that while the bill does in fact say so, it at the same time doesn’t say so:
“What Breitbart and the anti-union Republicans don’t want you to know about is Section 4117.14 of the bill … Right now if firefighters and lawmakers have a disagreement, they go to a neutral third party to reach an agreement. In Senate Bill 5, those rights are taken away and the lawmakers — the lawmakers — have the final say.”
Once again, Ed, reading is fundamental. Had Schultz actually read the article I wrote in which the video was embedded, he would have found that this “Breitbart lackey” who “[doesn’t] want you to know about … Section 4117.14,” specifically mentioned Section 4117.14.
To be fair, opponents of the bill who have read it at least offer a more nuanced argument than Schultz. Appearing on Rachel Maddow’s show, Mike Weinman, Director of Government Affairs at the Fraternal Order of Police of Ohio, told Maddow that “under Senate Bill 5 now, it would be up to city councils whether or not you get that safety equipment.”
And this is true. SB 5 does, in fact, replace unfirable binding arbitrators unaccountable for budget solvency with elected officials answerable to both the taxpayer and the unions. In the private sector, this would be the equivalent of allowing the actual manager (who has a tangible stake in keeping the company solvent so as to avoid lay-offs) to negotiate with the union, rather than an uninvested yes man to waltz in, high-five union members and decide how much money said manager may have to pull out of thin air to accommodate.
Of course, the only reason I pointed out this change under SB 5 was because I did not want anyone to know about it. Perhaps I would have had better luck pointing it out on MSNBC.
Schultz then turned to Jack Reall, playing my clip in which Reall said:
“That lieutenant sitting in the seat next to you, going into the fire with you, has no right to bargain for his safety, his staffing, his safety equipment. And that is bullshit.”
I had followed that clip with a title card reading: “…At least that claim is. Under SB 5: ‘… equipment issues directly related to personal safety are subject to collective bargaining.’ (ORC 4117.08)”
After playing the clip, Schultz noted:
“As you can see from the video, they did a great job of editing, but they forgot to take out the first part which was ‘the lieutenant sitting in the seat next to you.’ [SB 5] removes the rights of any supervisor to be in a bargaining unit or have a bargaining agreement. That means lieutenants, captains and battalion chiefs in the fire department have no right to bargain for anything.”
Reall was referring to Section 4117.06, which reads:
[I]n determining the appropriate unit, the board shall not…with respect to members of a fire department, designate as appropriate a unit that includes rank and file members of the department with members who are of the rank of lieutenant or above.
While I hate to break the bad news to Reall, he does still have the right to bargain for his safety. Unless his right to the victim card is of more value than that of the rights he is claiming to be a victim of losing, the term “bad news” is relative.
Section 4117.06 simply means that members who are of the rank of lieutenant of above cannot be including in the same bargaining unit as that of rank and file. This does not preclude lieutenants and their superiors from bargaining altogether, within their own unit.
Under the 1983 law, everyone save the chief was in the same bargaining unit as the rank and file. SB 5 simply puts firemen in the same situation as the police, which is to separate the bargaining units so that lieutenants, captains and assistant chiefs could organize and have their own unit and bargain for the same list of items as the rank and file.
To clarify this, I spoke with Jonathan Downs, attorney specializing in employment law with an emphasis on public unions, representing cities, counties and school boards throughout the state, a number of clients of whose have contracts with fire, police and county sherrifs.
Perhaps I would not have to keep pulling the rug out from under every one of Schultz’s lies if someone would be kind enough to hand him a copy of the actual bill. But then, of course, that might constitute an ambush.