Ohio Republican Gov. John Kasich delivered his State of the State address today while thousands of protesters gathered inside and outside the state Capitol chanting, “Kill the Bill!” Laborers, teachers, firefighters and police officers rallied together in a united outcry against Kasich’s bill that is designed to take away collective bargaining rights for the state’s 350,000 public sector employees, referred to as Senate Bill 5. The bill cleared the Senate last week after Senate Republicans, in an act of unprecedented and legally questionable thuggery, kicked a member of their own team off his committee assignment in order to replace him with someone who promised to vote their way.
House Democratic Leader Armond Budish, of Beachwood explained that his party simply doesn’t have the votes to kill the bill.
Business Week reported:
“We’ll do the only thing we can do,” he (Budish) said. “We’ll fight like hell.” Budish’s comments came as he unveiled what House Democrats are calling their “Compact with the Middle Class.” As part of their legislative priorities, they pledged to push back against the collective bargaining legislation.
Watch the protesters chants here:
The AFL-CIO reported:
This morning before the speech, hundreds of members of the Fire Fighters (IAFF) marched to the Statehouse, led by bagpipers and holding signs opposing SB 5. On the statehouse steps, IAFF President Harold Schaitberger led the crowd in a chant “Kill The Bill” (See video above).
“It’s a dark time in Ohio,” Mike Castle, a Columbus firefighter told the Columbus Dispatch. “I voted for the man (Kasich), and it brings tears to my eyes to say that.”
During a rally yesterday Bill Melvin, a union maintenance worker for the state, told the Associated Press Kasich is wrong to blame state workers for Ohio’s fiscal problems. He said his pay was cut by more than half when he moved from the private to the public sector four months ago. He said he took an $18-an-hour pay cut when he switched jobs because of a decline in construction in the area.
The Dick Armey run Freedom Works (who offered “Citizen Lobby Training” during the healthcare debates which Freedom Works was adamantly against) backed Tea Party is planning to turn out to show support for Kasich’s bill, in what can only be proof that the Tea Party is indeed bought and paid for corporate shills rather than the grass roots movement of the people, for there are no people who truly love justice and freedom who can condone unilaterally killing workers’ rights to collectively bargain. While the Tea Party Republicans try to take cover under the guise of fiscal responsibility, the numbers show that the top ten percent are getting much richer, while everyone else’s incomes are practically stagnant.
When we take a look at the reality that pro-profit sectors are raising costs while public sectors are not, we can’t avoid the conclusion that privatizing the public sector will not save money for American tax payers, but it will make corporations very wealthy. The Republicans are actually attempting to kill union rights and pubic sectors all together in order to redistribute Americans’ tax dollars into the hands of private enterprise and they are using budget crisis brought about by their own tax cuts to justify their actions.
You can only stand against the unions if you believe that our tax dollars should go to help these poor, beleaguered über-rich instead of being funneled into the not-for-profit public sector. Of course the private sector wants to do away with unions and kill the public sector; corporations exist to make a profit and they can’t compete with a not for profit entity.
Making the effort to kill the public sector even more heinous is that while the government reinvests our tax dollars into the economy, many private entities hoard the money in offshore accounts, refusing to even pay what little taxes they are required to pay on their profits and this does nothing but depress the economy further. Our public sector workers are an important part of our economic recovery and of efficient, affordable services regulated by the government and accountable to the people.
These are dark days, but the soaring, united spirits of the workers across this country are fighting back in Ohio, as in Wisconsin, Michigan and other states where Republicans are attempting their final coup of our government.