Ohio governor backtracks on union stripping bill

Yesterday, just a day after the labor movement came out of the Wisconsin recall campaigns winning in five of nine contested races, Ohio’s right-wing GOP Gov. John Kasich backtracked on his union-stripping Senate Bill 5.

At a press conference in his office he called on union leaders to negotiate a “compromise” on the union-killing law he championed and he asked them to end their historic campaign to repeal the law. The governor did not say what provisions of the law he was willing to see changed.

Only minutes after he made his offer, the governor got his response.

“It’s too late for talking,” said We Are Ohio spokesperson Melissa Fazekas who was outside the governor’s office when his press conference ended.

Fazekas said, “Over 1.3 million signatures were collected to get the repeal effort on the Nov. 8 ballot. This is a publicity stunt to save political face over a law that polling suggests will be overturned by a huge margin.

“These politicians who passed Senate Bill 5 have the ability to come back and repeal the law,” she said, “and that is what they should do, repeal the entire law. Or they can join the majority of the people and vote no in November.”

“The move is hypocritical,” declared Cleveland police union president Stephen Loomis. “We asked for them to sit down throughout the time the bill was being discussed and were summarily dismissed. Repeal the bill in its entirety and we’d be happy to sit down with you. There is absolutely no trust. Once bitten, twice shy. Talk is cheap.”

Kasich says his change of heart and willingness to compromise was the result of editorials in the Cleveland Plain Dealer and The Columbus Dispatch.

Unions note that the historic petition drive and a late July Quinnipiac poll showing voters favoring repeal 56-32 percent, a 24-point margin, are the more likely explanations.

SB 5 drew mass protests to the Ohio Statehouse larger than any ever held there. Like Scott Walker in Wisconsin, Kasich locked the doors to keep demonstrators out.

The draconian SB 5 ends collective bargaining, binding arbitration and the right to strike for all 350,000 state and local employees.

Photo: Progress Ohio // CC 2.0


John Wojcik
John Wojcik

John Wojcik is Editor-in-Chief of People's World. He joined the staff as Labor Editor in May 2007 after working as a union meat cutter in northern New Jersey. There, he served as a shop steward and a member of a UFCW contract negotiating committee. In the 1970s and '80s, he was a political action reporter for the Daily World, this newspaper's predecessor, and was active in electoral politics in Brooklyn, New York.