Today, Ohioans served Republican Governor John Kasich some of his own medicine, rejecting his offer to negotiate with them on Senate Bill 5 (the bill that killed collective bargaining rights). They told him the time for talking was over.
We Are Ohio has taken the people’s fight all the way back to the ballot box to the chagrin of Governor Kasich. The anti-union bill (S.B. 5) that he rammed down the throats of Ohioans in spite of daily protests (hello, Scott Walker) is being put on the November ballot after 1.3 million Ohioans signed petitions to put the vote before the people. Kasich is now begging for “compromise” from the legislature in order to avoid the harsh judgment of the actual people he serves.
In other words, Kasich refused to talk to the workers when he was passing the law – he even locked the doors to the state house. But now that they have brought the bill to the people, getting more than a million signatures for the referendum when they only needed 231,000, and thus managing to get it on the ballot to be voted on, suddenly Kasich is willing to deal — but not with the people. Oh, no. He wants to keep this between the legislators and the Governor’s office, where he has a chance of saving his union killing bill with some minor tweaks.
Luckily, Ohioans aren’t falling for that Trojan Horse. Rejecting Kasich’s too little too late offer to talk, Senate Minority Leader Capri S. Cafaro, D-32 Hubbard said, “Kasich and Republicans in the General Assembly “have finally admitted that they went too far” but that “it has taken too long for them to acknowledge they overreached” with the legislation.”
And in case that wasn’t clear, Melissa Fazekas, a spokeswoman for We Are Ohio, the coalition leading the repeal drive, spoke at a press conference yesterday and explained that the GOP has a choice: They can repeal S.B. 5 on their own, or wait for the referendum on the ballot this November. AFL-CIO quotes Fazekas:
We’re glad that Gov. Kasich and the other politicians who passed S.B. 5 are finally admitting this is a flawed bill. Just like the bill was flawed, this approach to a compromise is flawed as well.
Our message is clear. These same politicians who passed this law could repeal it and not thwart the will of the people. They should either repeal the entire bill or support our efforts and encourage a no vote on Issue 2 [the repeal].
Once again, Republicans underestimated the spirit of the people. On June 29, Ohioans marched in The People’s Parade to Repeal S.B. 5, with 6,000 Ohio workers and a semi-truck full of more than a million signatures, making this a record for any Ohio ballot initiative. Cue the Kasich queasies (Kasich squeaked in as Governor in 2010, with just 49% of the vote against Democratic incumbent Ted Strickland). Watch here:
Kasich et al only want to meet with union leaders now so they can remove the referendum from the ballot in order to save it from being repealed. The Republicans in the state are now suggesting that Democrats and union leaders shouldn’t play political games when the economy is so bad, but should be willing to talk to Republicans about reforming S.B. 5.
Predictably, the ALEC puppets (Kasich et al) cry like babies for compromise when they stand to lose something, after months of refusing to even hear the position of the labor leaders before they passed legislation impacting workers.These are the same Republicans who told the press last March that they were doing what the people wanted. 1,300,000 signatures disagrees with their Luntz spin, as do the latest polls. Of course, the polls back in March told the Republicans that the people were not behind them as well, but the Republicans ignored that in order to serve their corporate masters.
The people never wanted collective bargaining taken away from workers. After all, equal opportunity is a founding principle of this country and most Americans understand the need for workers to unite in negotiations against corporate power in order to level the playing field. The Republicans won last spring, but they are paying the piper now and they don’t like to pay for things, as you know.
Expect the spin to come fast and furious out of Ohio as the GOP scrambles to make the Democrats and union leaders look bad for refusing to negotiate with them, even though the GOP refused to even hear the workers last spring as they passed their Koch agenda with watering mouths. It’s ironic and sad to note that Kasich, the son of a mail carrier, wouldn’t be where he is today without the help of the unions covering public servants like his father or the public school system run by the very public servants whose rights he killed with S.B. 5. Kasich is just another Republican who got his and doesn’t seem to have the empathy for those who walk in his past shoes now.
Ohioans just gave the Koch agenda a big black eye. It couldn’t happen to a more worthy opponent of democracy.
Image: Jay LaPrete/AP