Monday, November 25, 2013

The Right Wing in Ohio just doesn't get the message. Or they're proof of string theory.

               When John Kasich came to power as Governor in 2014 he made the same miscalculation George W. Bush did in 2004. Like President Bush, Kasich saw a one percentage point and change victory as a sweeping mandate.

Bush went after Social Security and had his ass handed to him. The more he stumped for privatization, the more unpopular it became.

Governor Kasich decided to pick a fight with Organized Labor. He cloaked an attempt to crush Public Sector as a way to close an overstated budget hole.The Legislation shot through the Legislature as fast as Wall Street can pick your pocket. He did this as massive protests surrounded The Ohio Statehouse for days. After shenanigan's in committee the bills passed and were signed into law.

Union members, both public and private, turned out to bring home their opposition to these measures. The private sector Unions knew if this attack stood, they were next.

Petitions were circulated and a record number of signatures were gathered to put a repeal measure on the ballot in November 2011. The GOP fought back by trying to force confusing language onto the measure. When that was slapped down by the courts they went to plan B. They tried to break the ballot measure into multiple issues, hoping to salvage something. That idea crashed and burned also.

In an off year election we saw massive amounts of money rush into Ohio both pro and con. The opponents of repeal waged a vicious, fact challenged campaign. and they lost. The repeal passed 62%-38%. In 1958, the Ohio Republicans tried to pass a Right to Work ballot measure that failed by nearly identical numbers.

The reason Kasich and company tried this, thinking it would work is, in my opinion, they overestimated anti-Union sentiment. As Public Sector Unions were vilified as budget killers, they forgot Union Members are people. Neighbors, friends and relatives.

In their haste to break the Unions and eliminate a staunch ally of the Democratic Party the Republicans underestimated the strength of Labor in Ohio. There is still a strong manufacturing base in this State. True, it's not what it once was. However in the urban areas, there are a lot of Public Sector Union Members. Those areas are full of people that grew up in a union household. These areas are where the bulk of Ohioans live and work.

Even in the rural areas there are Public Sector Union Members. Police, Firefighters and teachers. The Guys that plow and repair the roads. Those who maintain Public buildings. Not exactly a bunch of wild eyed radical brigands and thugs.

A GOP political guy told me it was only a matter of educating the voter. Once they were shown the light, the repeal would fail. This was the same guy who told me Romney would carry Ohio by five points and Sherrod Brown would be a one term Senator.

Something Unions are very good at is getting out the vote. They can organize and put boots on the ground. They staff phone banks and knock on doors. They understand blue collar issues because they are blue collar.

The landslide was humiliating for about five minutes.

Almost immediately there was talk in the House of pushing Right to Work. Assorted, Tea Party infused outside groups started making noises about putting a Right To Work measure on the ballot. For some reason they figure an assault on Private Sector Unions is different. During 2012 we didn't hear much about it.

During 2013 Right To Work Bills were introduced in the House and Senate. Signatures are being gathered to put Right To work on the ballot for November 2014. This sends chills down the spines of the establishment Republican Party. The last thing they want to do is pick a fight with Labor as all the Statewide offices come up for election. The last thing they want is energized opposition bringing people to the polls. People who would likely vote Democrat. The Statewide races have the potential to be tight as the GOP hold all of the offices. Labor has vowed to make Kasich a one and done Governor.

This summer the Right To Work supporters in the Legislature were urged to hold off till after 2014 so as not to annoy the electorate. There is still a lot of anger over the 2011 debacle.

The bills have stalled as leadership puts the breaks on. However the ballot proponents are undeterred. They continue to collect signatures. They currently have about 100,000 of 385,000 needed. They are determined to see it on the ballot in '14.

Already the AFL-CIO is pushing back. There is already a campaign to inform voters of what's at stake. As the political season heats up one can expect a full court press to kill Right To Work in Ohio.

What is forgotten is Ohio was a leader in the Labor movement. The AFL and the United Mine Workers Of America were both founded in Columbus Ohio. The result was a strong union presence and tradition here. This continues even after the decimation of our manufacturing base.  Union power is far less than it once was but is still a force to be reckoned with in Ohio. Kasich discovered this in 2011.

Now this push to do Right To Work only reinforces the idea the Right Wing activists in Ohio reside in an alternate universe. A place where they can blithely crush unions and reap a laurel wreath as a hero of the State. They seem to feel that Right To Work is a winner. Do they not think Labor will once again unite to defeat this? Their confidence seems based on willful ignorance and an unfounded arrogance that they are right.

This is another instance where the Right feels they can impose their will in spite of political reality. They are in for a fight. Ohio can not afford to be another Michigan, Indiana or Southern State. Our history is entwined with the Labor movement. As is our future. These Republicans don't realize arrogance is not power. And an over reach can cost you an arm. If they lose this battle it could be the beginning of the end for the radical Right here in Ohio. If they win, God help us all.

Something to ponder though. The attempt to kneecap Unions lost 62%-38% in 2011.
The Right To Work ballot measure lost 63%-37% in 1958. The more things change.....

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