Thursday, September 5, 2013

Ohio: Right to work. Deja vu, all over again.

          Ohio. 1958. A right to work ballot measure was decided here.
Now, this was the Fifties, the heyday of Union power in America. Ohio was a manufacturing powerhouse. Right behind Michigan in auto production. The home of the tire and rubber industry. In Columbus Ohio you had North American Aviation, a major Defense Contractor employing about 16,000 people building military aircraft. My Father worked there. There was steel and about anything you could imagine.
The anti union Republicans felt they could get a ballot issue passed in a major State with a large unionized workforce. It seems a disconnect with reality is not a modern GOP phenomenon.
The ballot measure was crushed by a 63%-37% margin. Oooops.
The idea of right to work for less resurfaced occasionally over the following decades but gained zero traction.
Fast forward to 2010.
The Tea Party phenomenon and major rise of extremism in the Ohio GOP gave the State to the far right. They immediately pushed a regressive agenda targeting unions and women's reproductive rights.
The Ohio House passed a so called Heartbeat bill to effectively ban abortion after six weeks with no provisions for rape, incest or the health of the mother. It died in the State Senate. However they did pass a twenty week limit. This was done in a political circus which made Ohio a national laughingstock, again.
The House and Senate passed a union busting bill that stripped collective bargaining rights from Public Sector Unions. This was done during massive protests at the Statehouse. They were the largest I had seen there since the anti Vietnam war days. Since Law Enforcement unions were also targeted one did not see tear gas and clubs the State Police were so fond of using on anti-war protesters. Everyone knew the Private Sector was next.
The Republican majority was not completely in lock step on this bill. The Senate leader had to resort to political chicanery. A Republican Senator on the Committee, who had listened to all the testimony, was a No vote. To ensure it made it to the Floor, this Senator was removed and replaced, at the last minute with a sure yes vote.
Senate Bill 5 passed along party lines and was signed into law by Governor John Kasich.
Kasich, even before he signed the bill used it to fundraise, touting it as a victory for workers and taxpayers over unions killing city budgets.
Unions, Democrats and others opposed to the bill immediately moved to put a repeal referendum on the November 2012 ballot.
There was a fight by the GOP to break the repeal into three separate issues which they lost in a decision by Republican Secretary of State Jon Husted.
Nearly 1.3 million signatures were submitted, a record in Ohio.
In August of 2011 the Governor tried to start negotiations with We Are Ohio, the ballot measure sponsor to rework SB5 and pull the repeal attempt. The response from opponents was a heartfelt no. They reminded the Governor and Legislature the time for discussion was before the bill was passed and signed into law.It was pointed out opposing voices were run roughshod over during committee hrarings. The Governor and Legislature was told to repeal the bill and the ballot measure would be dropped. They refused while denying this was a move in response to very bad poll results.
Kasich stumped for Senate Bill 5. It was endorsed by Mitt Romney and Rick Perry, both 2012 GOP Presidential hopefuls. The attack on unions was also backed by Mike Huckabee and Sarah Palin. It also received positive support in the Right Wing Blogosphere and on Fox News.
On Election Day in 2011 the repeal passed 61%-39% mirroring the right to work rejection in 1958.
Always one to learn their lessons, the Right To Work crowd announced, within days of Issue 2 going down in flames, they would attempt to get a Right To Work measure on the 2012 ballot. Didn't happen.
They keep trying, saying they will try for the 2014 ballot. So far the drive has been an abysmal failure.
Now, with a rabid extremist majority in both Ohio's Houses it is rearing it's head again.
The Legislators have been told to cease and desist by the Kasich Administration until after the Governor's reelection campaign. Kasich, after 2011 does not want to have this adding to his labor woes. He knows there is a push after Issue 2 and his repressive anti-abortion budget regulations to defeat him. Kasich is dealing with a threatened Tea Party revolt and does not want to hyper energize the opposition of sane Ohioans by picking another fight with labor. He is trying to project a reasonable image as he readies a 2016 run at the White House.
So the best way to stop this is to hammer Kasich at the polls in 2014.
It will stop right to work in it's tracks and badly hamper his Presidential ambitions.
Kasich, one and done for Ohio's future.
Get on board.

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