Saturday, December 3, 2016

Ohio Has a GOP Trifecta, But Not Right-To-Work: Why?

Indiana, Wisconsin, West Virginia and very soon Kentucky are right-to-work states

They all surround Ohio, a GOP stronghold where Republicans have a supermajority in the state legislature as well as a popular Republican governor.

Yet this state is an island of forced unionism surrounded by workplace liberty.


It goes back to 2010.

John Kasich ran for Governor against Ted Strickland (the same candidate who epically failed to win the US Senate seat against seasoned, prepared Robert Portman).

In fact, Kasich rode the Tea Party wave and wiped out incumbent Ted Strickland!

It was a close win, though, 1%, or a difference of 76,000 votes out of 4 million cast.

Still, it was an incredible turn of fortune for Ohio Republicans.

The Ohio legislature flipped, too, but by a bare margin.

Republicans gained 13 seats for a strong majority in the House of Representatives.

In the state senate, Republicans added two seats to their majority.

Why not make the most of  it? Besides, Kasich had Presidential ambitions even then, and this sudden victory could turn into massive reforms, which would further butrtess his bid for President down the line.

Walker had Act 10, which finally passed out of Madison in March, 2011.

At the same time, the Ohio legislature pushed through SB 5, which was signed into law March 31, 2011.

Despite the general goal of labor reforms, the two union bills could not have been more different.

PJ Media reports:

But Kasich overreached and made one strategic blunder after another. For starters, all the reforms were offered in one massive bill instead of as individual pieces of legislation. And unlike Scott Walker's union reforms in Wisconsin, Kasich's reforms included police and firefighters, which put the bill on shaky ground from the day it was introduced.

Other facts about Walker's push for Act 10:

1. He spent time explaining the reforms to the Wisconsin public before pushing for them.
2. Wisconsin Democrats fled to Illinois in order to prevent a quorum. It was bad publicity for the Democratic Party.
3. Labor unions were not just demonstrating, but members were getting illegal sick notes to skip work and protest. They were trashing the state capital, too. More bad publicity.
4. Walker tried to work out a compromise budget fix, but the Democrats rejected it. He looked reasonable, while the minority Democrats were fanatical and out-of-touch.

Speaking on the legislation issues alone, Kasich's bill did go too far. Going after police and fire is a risky business at best. Public safety officers get hefty pensions and benefits, but public sentiment is strongly in their favor. Walker also feared illegal strikes which would have further imperiled the state--and even the state legislators!

What else about Kasich's attempt at right-to-work and collective bargaining reforms foretold nothing but trouble?

PJ Media continued:

But the bill went much further, mandating merit pay, banning strikes, and curtailing the collective bargaining rights for public employees. It also required that they pay a percentage of their health insurance and pension benefits. 

Walker's reforms did not touch on banning strikes--that would have been a steep demand, no matter what anyone says about labor unions. Merit pay? That was too much too fast.

Walker had intended to pass budget reforms with the collective bargaining reforms. Ironically, the Democratic Party's decision to bolt the state house and prevent a uorum forced Walker to split the bills and pass the reforms without the budget revisions.

And they passed.

Kasich did too much, and misread the mandate he and his legislature had received.

Add to that a widespread voter phalanx which backed repeal, and the labor reforms went up in smoke.

Today, Right-to-work is not on Kasich's agenda, but the Republicans control a supermajority. 

Will they have the courage to try right-to-work again? Will they be able to stand together if Governor Kasich vetoes the legislation?

At the beginning of 2016, Rep. John Becker (R-Union Township) submitted a public sector right-to-work bill.

Why did predict that the legislation would go nowhere?
  • ·         Voters wholeheartedly rejected 2011's Senate Bill 5, an attempt to curtail collective bargaining rights.
  • ·         Since then, Gov. John Kasich has repeatedly said right-to-work is not on his agenda nor needed in Ohio.
  • ·         A right-to-work bill targeting private employers was introduced in October and has only had an initial hearing.
  • ·         Lawmakers won't have an opportunity to take up the bill until the House returns after the November election. The two-year legislative session will likely end in mid-December, and any bills that don't clear both chambers die.
  • ·         Passing a new bill, especially a controversial policy change such as right-to-work, in a few short weeks would be Herculean task requiring support from legislative leaders. Senate President Keith Faber, a Celina Republican, effectively killed right-to-work legislation last General Assembly when he refused to take up the bills
The union stronghold in Ohio has gotten stronger since 2011.

They are keenly aware of what Republican trifectas can accomplish. They are ready for anything this time,

Kasich's initial gable fell through, and with it any lasting reforms to solve budget and pensions issues.

On the other hand, Republicans are standing strong in union country. Will it get to a point where Democrats will have to push similar reforms in order to be competitive in future elections?


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