Victory for State’s Public Unions Tuesday night, Ohioans voted to repeal a Republican-backed law that restricted the state’s 350,000 public workers’ collective bargaining power. Issue 2 (Senate Bill 5) on the Ohio ballot was defeated in a landslide by a 62 to 38 percent margin. This was a huge victory for Democrats and labor organizers across the nation and in the state.
Issue 2 called for dramatic revisions to Ohio’s collective bargaining law, which was signed into law by Governor John Kasich in March 2011. It would have prohibited workers’ rights to negotiate for health care, sick time, or pension benefits and would affect firefighters, police officers, and teachers. In addition to limiting bargaining rights, Issue 2 would have banned strikes, tied salaries to performance measures, as opposed to seniority, and also required public employees to pay at least 15 percent of their health care costs and put 10 percent of their wages toward pensions.
Since Kasich signed the measure in March, labor leaders mobilized to form the union-backed coalition We Are Ohio, and gathered 1.3 million signatures to have Senate Bill 5 on the ballot in hopes of repealing the new collective bargaining law. Tuesday’s victory sends a clear message that the top one percent will not take precedence over the working class. In a statement following the bill’s defeat, Governor Kasich said, “I’ve heard their voices, I understand their decision, and frankly I respect what people have to say.”
Associated Press 11/9/11; Washington Post 11/8/11; Cleveland.com 11/8/11