As Mary Ann wrote earlier this week, our Ohio team has been focused on the Fair Districts amendment over the last few weeks. At the same time, we’ve also been taking on the big issue of outsourcing, and the impact it has on Ohioans.
You may be wondering how we got from redistricting to outsourcing. Well, it’s simpler than it may seem at first.
If we could get fair districts in Ohio drawn by an independent commission instead of politicians, and therefore have real and effective representation at the state and federal level, we will be able to hold politicians far more accountable on outsourcing and other issues key for working families. In short, to hold politicians accountable to working families, we need fair districts.
Until then, we have resolved to highlight important bills we hope our politicians will consider. One such piece of outsourcing-related legislation is H.B. 403, which would make sure state funds awarded to companies and people are spent on goods, services, and labor from the United States, whether the money is awarded via contract or through economic development assistance.
Sounds simple, right? After all, this is our tax money we’re talking about here, and yeah, it should be spent on goods and services made in the US. This is something our elected officials should be clamoring to support.
The bill has been sitting in committee since it was introduced last December, waiting and waiting and waiting for the chairperson, Rep. Ron Young (R-Leroy Township) to decide to take it up. It’s as if my “I’m Just a Bill” disc was broken, so that it played the same line over and over. For some reason, this bill is stuck in committee with an unclear future.
What is the holdup?
After all, H.B. 403 would simply make sure the government spends our tax money wisely while supporting and strengthening U.S. jobs. And here in Ohio we could certainly use more jobs. Working families lose jobs and economic opportunities when corporations leave. It’s worse when companies move jobs elsewhere after they’ve been given tax breaks and other taxpayer subsidies to keep their headquarters here.
All of this outsourcing seems so clearly wrong to our members. In fact, our field team has been working diligently to talk with folks across Northeast Ohio about this issue. We’ve successfully collected photo petitions demanding that our politicians seriously tackle outsourcing by passing – or at least debating – H.B. 403 and other outsourcing bills. There’s no doubt that as we talk with folks in especially hard hit areas, their feelings of frustration about this issue are readily apparent.
It’s unconscionable that our elected officials in Ohio have yet to even hold a hearing on this bill, which addresses such an important issue for many Ohioans. Outsourcing doesn’t just affect the people who lose their jobs, although they obviously deserve a solution most of all, but it really affects the entire community and state. And our representatives should do something about it. Passing H.B. 403 would be a good start.
Eight months after Ohio working families overwhelmingly repealed Gov. Kasich’s union-busting Senate Bill 5, the Governor’s office is crowing with victory over the state’s “rainy day fund.” According to State Budget Director Tim Keen, this fund is set to double from $247 million to $482 million. “I think we are in a good place,” Gov. Kasich proudly told reporters.
But at what cost? Kasich doesn’t mention that in towns and cities across Ohio, his wide swath of budget cuts have led to mass layoffs of teachers, public safety officials like police officers and firefighters, and other public workers that help communities run.
Ted Andrzejewski is the mayor of Eastlake, a Lake County community 20 miles east of Cleveland. He didn’t take kindly to Kasich scoring political points at the expense of his town. In a must-read letter to the Plain-Dealer, he lays out his argument.
I was reading the July 4 article about Gov. John Kasich declaring that the state will have a $235 million carryover surplus for 2012. I nearly fell off my chair in disbelief. That money belongs to the cities, villages, townships, school districts and counties in Ohio. Then I read further that the $235 million will double to $482 million.
Gov. Kasich, that is our money that you took from us when you lowered by 50 percent the local government fund, took away the CAT tax reimbursement and took away the public utility tax reimbursement.
Every mayor, city manager, school superintendent and township trustee should be outraged that the governor is bragging about the large surplus at our expense. From Eastlake alone, he took $1.5 million, or 11 percent of our general fund. We had to lay off police officers, firefighters, Service Department employees and office workers.
Has the governor forgotten about the hundreds of tax increase issues that were on the ballot last November because of his actions? We had no choice but to ask our voters for help. Most tax increase issues were defeated, so we all had to make painful cuts.
Gov. Kasich, it must be nice to push the need for a tax increase to the local level so that your administration does not get the blame. You should use this surplus to restore funding back to local municipalities.
Last November, our Ohio members joined thousands of other working families and stood up to Gov. John Kasich and corporate interests by overwhelmingly repealing Senate Bill 5, which would have cut collective bargaining rights for over 350,000 Ohio workers.
But only a few months later, a Quinnipiac poll shows that 54 percent of Ohioans would support a so-called “right to work” law, which in 22 other states have lowered wages for all workers, created less safe workplaces, and weakened the ability of unions to represent their members. (This does not bode well for the future of Indiana, the 23rd RTW state).
Indiana recently became a “right to work” state, meaning that workers can no longer be required to join a union or pay dues or fees to a union as a condition of employment. Do you think that Ohio should become a “right to work” state or don’t you think so?
According to the poll, those who said Ohio should become a right to work state include 55 percent of independents and 31 percent of Democrats, and 32 percent of union households, in addition to 3 out of 4 Republicans.
The campaign to repeal Senate Bill 5 was successful in explaining how the collective bargaining restrictions would hurt all workers. We must do the same for so-called “right to work.”
The goal of a “right to work” law is the same as the goal of Ohio’s Senate Bill 5 – weaken the voices and power of working people. Where Senate Bill 5 went through the front door, RTW laws go through the back door, draining the resources of the institutions that protect workers.
Like Senate Bill 5, the RTW pushers will talk about getting Ohio’s economy back on track. But RTW laws reduce wages for all workers, both union and non-union (accounting for different costs of living in the states). How on earth does putting less money in workers’ pockets help the economy?
Like Senate Bill 5, the RTW pushers will talk about the need to bring businesses to the state. But RTW is not a meaningful factor in those decisions. A survey of manufacturers in Area Development magazine showed that RTW laws ranked 16th in terms of influencing location decisions, slipping from 14th in 2009. RTW has never ranked in the top ten factors influencing where businesses move.
Like Senate Bill 5, the RTW pushers will talk about the need to create jobs. Yes, we agree: jobs should be the number one priority for Ohio leaders. But RTW laws have no impact on job growth. None whatsoever. There is no evidence that these laws get people have to work or improve the economy in any way.
“Right to work” isn’t about rights, and it’s not about work. So what’s it about? Like Senate Bill 5. It’s about politics. Right-wing legislators and conservative groups, aided by massive amounts of out-of-state money, want to divide working people: union and non-union, public and private. They want us to be squabbling and distracted while they further enrich the ultra-wealthy.
When it comes to gathering signatures, Ohio working families hold the record. Last year, in response to the blitzkrieg passage of the union-busting Senate Bill 5, Ohioans across the state gathered 1.3 million signatures to get a repeal measure on the 2011 ballot, over six times the required number.
Anti-worker conservatives have some big shoes to fill.
Even though the unpopular Gov. John Kasich doesn’t want to touch the so-called “right to work” issue, conservative leaders are going ahead with it anyway. Earlier this month, Attorney General Mike DeWine approved language for a “right to work” amendment. That means organizers now have to gather 385,253 valid signatures from at least 44 of Ohio’s 88 counties. To have a buffer, anti-worker organizers want at least 600,000 signatures.
In a state that just overwhelmingly smashed Senate Bill 5, does such an effort have a chance? One of the measure’s backers, Ohio Liberty Council’s Chris Littleton, was trying to downplay expectations. “Ohio will become a right to work state,” said Littleton last Friday, “I just can’t tell you a timeline.”
But just like with Senate Bill 5, there’s going to be a lot of money flowing into Ohio to try and convince people that such a law would be good for the economy, even though in 22 other states such laws have led to depressed wages and unsafe workplaces. With neighboring Indiana ramming through a right to work law earlier this year, anti-worker forces may feel that they have momentum on their side.
One of the best metaphors for why “right to work” laws are bad for all workers comes from the Union Review’s John Crumbler, who calls them “right to shirk laws.” Say you had to cross a river to get to work in the morning. If there was a bridge and it had a toll booth, everyone who used the bridge would have to pay the toll – otherwise you could use a ferry. But what if you were told the toll was optional? Of course people would opt not to pay the toll if they could cross the bridge either way. Soon, the bridge would fall into a disrepair and collapse, because no one would be paying for its upkeep – which is what the ferry companies wanted in the first place.
Some Michigan Republicans have been pressuring Governor Snyder to get behind a right to work bill in Michigan but he wants nothing to do with it, reiterating during congressional testimony yesterday that it would just bring everything to a grinding halt in Lansing.
The political situations in all of these states are different, but fortunately they are all tougher terrain for union-busting bills than Indiana.
Ohio’s Gov. John Kasich has not expressed interest in making “right-to-work” a priority, especially after his similarly anti-worker Senate Bill 5 got overwhelmingly spanked last year at the polls. “If people in this state feel that you need right-to-work, I don’t think people even know what that is,” Kasich said. That’s politician code for “please, leave me out of this.”
Michigan’s Governor Rick Snyder is trying to position himself as the moderate of the freshman bunch. Talking about the backlashes in Wisconsin and Ohio, Snyder indicated he doesn’t want a similar situation in Lansing. “If you want to draw it as a contrast, you look at now that they’ve had those things happen, do they have a productive environment to solve problems? Not necessarily,” he told the Huffington Post, “They’re still overcoming the divisiveness, the hard feelings from all of that.”
And thanks in part to Working America pounding the pavement in 2010, Minnesota working families have an ally in Governor Mark Dayton, who opposes right to work. However, he doesn’t have the power to veto constitutional amendments proposed by the majority of the legislature. The current effort by Republican legislators is to put the issue on the November ballot.
All these efforts pale in comparison to Arizona’s blitzkrieg against public unions that caught workers by surprise this week. A series of bills were introduced late at night on Monday and passed out of committee just 48 hours later – including a Wisconsin-style bill that would ban unions from representing any state, county, or municipal employee.
A high profile New York Times piece talked about Republican governors moderating their agendas in 2012. We’ll believe it when we see it. For now, all we’re seeing is a continuation of 2011’s all-out war on workers, and a complete nationwide negligence of the jobs and unemployment crisis.
The following is a guest post from U.S. Senator Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio).
This is a big moment for Ohio. On Tuesday you showed the entire country that we won’t accept attacks on Ohio’s middle class.
After months of gathering petition signatures, going door to door, making phone calls, and talking to your friends and neighbors you have defeated the special interests and overturned Senate Bill 5.
You showed shadowy out of state special interest groups who poured millions into Ohio on attack ads against Ohio’s working families that we don’t accept dirty political tricks and misinformation campaigns.
From the emergency room nurse in Cleveland to the firefighter in Zanesville to the teachers in Cincinnati, Akron, and Chillicothe—our public workers deserve a voice. They deserve a seat at the table when it comes to their safety, working conditions, to their benefits, and livelihoods. Thanks to you, they will still have those rights.
I thank you for all your hard work. But I do have an important message: don’t stop now.
Already those same right wing front groups are readying their millions to go after those of us who stood with you during this fight and Ohio will be one of their favorite targets. They’re going to come after us because we want to create jobs, protect Medicare and Social Security, and rebuild Ohio’s manufacturing base by standing up to China.
But let me tell you this. Because of what you did in Ohio, first by gathering 1.3 million signatures and then turning out in huge numbers to vote No on Issue 2, they are starting to listen.
And that’s why I ask you: don’t stop now.
Make your voice heard. Tell your elected officials that in Mansfield, you want good paying jobs. Tell them that in Cincinnati, construction workers shouldn’t wait in unemployment lines while schools and bridges need rebuilding. Tell them that Social Security checks for seniors in Akron are more important than tax loopholes for Wall Street and Big Oil.
And in one loud voice, tell extremists in Columbus to get their hands off your right to vote!
I would like to thank the members of Working America, the largest organization for working people in Ohio, for all that they have done in this fight, and I will continue to stand for all of Ohio workers, as I have done my whole career.
Cincinnati Fire Fighter (IAFF) Doug Stern says yesterday’s overwhelming rejection of Gov. John Kaisch’s (R) attempt to eliminate collective bargaining rights of workers like fire fighters, nurses, teachers, bridge inspectors and others shows:
the citizens of Ohio spoke and they made it loud and clear that the focus of government should be on creating sustainable middle class jobs, rather than pushing a partisan political agenda.
Stern, AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka and Louise Foresman, a member of Working America from Cleveland, took part in a telephone press conference this afternoon about the stunning victory for working families that sent Issue 2 down to a 61 percent to 39 percent defeat. Says Trumka:
Last night the people of Ohio—from autoworkers to teachers and firefighters to jobless workers—sent a message that will reverberate across the country: politicians need to stop scapegoating workers and pushing an extreme partisan agenda. They need to instead work to create jobs for working people and commit to restoring balance to our economy.
The Ohio victory, the Occupy Wall Street movement, the earlier uprising in Wisconsin and other battles across the nation show, says Trumka, that working families are fighting back against, “the dramatic overreach of many politicians in Ohio and across country. “
Working people will continue to raise their voices. The 99 percent who didn’t get rich while wrecking the American economy have decided to stand up for ourselves and demand a fair share.
Foresman, who works in a non-unionized workplace, says she believed Issue 2 was an
attack on all working people…Our governor is fond of saying that “A rising tide lifts all boats”…But what he was proposing would have lowered all boats…our boats can’t afford anymore holes. A lot of people who voted against Issue 2 are not unionized.
Polling by Hart Associates for the AFL-CIo backs her up. It shows that non-union voters opposed Issue 2 by a 52 to 48 percent margin. In addition, moderate voters voted “No” by a 70 percent to 30 percent edge and independent voters lined up against Issue 2 by 57 percent to 43 percent. Overall, voters polled say they believe public employees should have collective bargaining rights by a 66 percent to 27 percent.
The Ohio victory “matters everywhere,” says Trumka.
What you can take away from yesterday is that working people, the 99 percent, are standing up to corporate CEO’s to say, “Enough.”
Voters elsewhere also cast their ballots against Republican overreach, including in Arizona, where citizens recalled Russell Pearce, the Republican president of the state senate known who drafted the state’s extreme anti-immigrant law. In Maine, voters repealed a new law enacted by state Republicans to end a 40-year state tradition of allowing people to register the same day as voting. In Kentucky, state Senate President David Williams—a “clone” of Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker—was easily defeated by incumbent Gov. Steve Beshear (D).
For political newcomers, here’s what you need to know: the good guys won.
Not only did we win. We won big. We won in friendly territory and difficult terrain. And the credit for our victories belongs firmly to the working men and women – union and non-union alike – who were fighting for their rights, their jobs, their values, and their future.
When John Kasich was sworn in as Ohio’s Governor at the beginning of this year, he didn’t immediately focus on job creation, as he had promised during the 2010 campaign. Instead, he launched a full scale attack on the rights of Ohio’s teachers, firefighters, police officers, and other public workers. Senate Bill 5 was signed into law, restricting the collective bargaining rights of over 350,000 workers in Ohio.
What happened next was incredible. Working Ohioans joined petition drives all across the state to get a repeal of Senate Bill 5 on the November ballot. Among them were Republicans, Democrats, conservatives, and moderates who were outraged over Kasich’s overreach and callousness toward the working people of the Buckeye State; the idea that public workers should serve as an ATM while corporations saw tax reductions offended them. Many police officers and firefighters who traditionally voted for Republicans joined the effort against SB 5; they knew that public safety workers, not politicians, know best about the staff and equipment they need to protect Ohio’s communities.
John Kasich’s allies, including the Koch-backed Americans for Prosperity, Karl Rove’s American Crossroads, and a host of other shadowy out-of-state groups, poured millions into Ohio to protect Senate Bill 5. They tried every dirty trick in the book. But in the end, Issue 2 was defeated by a massive 21 point margin. In fact, more people voted to repeal Senate Bill 5 than to elect Governor Kasich. We’ll have more on what this Ohio victory means later today.
In June, Maine Governor Paul LePage signed LD 1376, which banned the practice of registering to vote on Election Day. Same-day registration had been in place in Maine for 38 years without any problems, but backers claimed it would “cut down on election day mistakes,” and “cuts down on voter fraud.” Maine GOP Chairman Charlie Webster was less subtle, saying same-day registration allowed Democrats to “intentionally steal elections.” Did Webster fail to notice Maine’s two Republican U.S. Senators and Republican Governor? This was just another attack in the nationwide war on voting rights, which has spread to Wisconsin, Ohio, Florida, South Carolina, Georgia, and many other states.
Luckily a collection of organizations including the Maine People’s Alliance and Working America formed Protect Maine Votes, and gathered 70,000 signatures to restore same-day registration. Question 1 on yesterday’s ballot passed by a wide margin, with nearly 60 percent of the vote. With last nights victory, the people of Maine have started the fight back against the war on voting.
Why does this matter? County Executives often become candidates for statewide office. The Democratic candidate for governor in 2010, Dan Onorato, was Allegheny County Executive. In Wisconsin, a certain Mr. Scott Walker held the seat of Milwaukee County Executive from which he launched his gubernatorial campaign.
It’s what Chris Savage calls “the little recall that could.” Of all the races last night, it was the recall of anti-teacher Michigan Rep. Paul Scott that faced the steepest climb.
Paul Scott is the kind of politician we all wish we could remove from office: Ambitious, ideological, and a outspoken opponent of his state’s teachers and teachers’ union. His attacks on education as the Chair the House Education Committee lead to a grassroots campaign to unseat him. Of the 47 attempts to recall Michigan legislators this year, only Paul Scott’s succeeded.
Iowa has a Republican Governor and a rabidly conservative House. The lower chamber in Iowa has passed measures attacking the state healthcare system, making huge cuts in education, and restrictions in collective bargaining rights.
It started in Wisconsin with a rejection of an assault on workers’ rights and carried on throughout this fall with the energy of the 99% on display all across the country. With tonight’s defeat of Ohio Gov. John Kasich’s anti-worker legislation SB-5, our country is turning the corner on the attack on working families and the 99%. This is a confirmation that the people of Ohio, whether union or nonunion, whether Democrat or Republican, overwhelmingly support the fundamental right of workers to have a say in their working conditions.
The defeat of SB-5 is a victory for all working people– from Lancaster to Toledo, Canton to Cincinnati –who were part of a massive grassroots effort to overturn this bill. Working America organizers, members and volunteers visited the homes of nearly 400,000 working class people across Ohio. Members, who don’t have a union on the job, sent thousands of emails and letters to lawmakers and their local news media, friends and neighbors, all in an effort to protect jobs and democracy by shutting down this legislation.
Tonight, Ohioans showed that scapegoating teachers, firefighters and other public sector workers won’t work, and that the 99 percent want politicians who work for them. Anything else, they will reject.
Tonight at the ballot box, clearly and loudly, they did just that.
Talk show and radio host Ed Schultz broadcasted live from the Ohio Professional Firefighters in Columbus, Ohio last night, backed by an enormous crowd. Ed devoted the grand majority of his show to discussing Senate Bill 5, on the ballot as Issue 2, and was frequently by cheers from the throng behind him, many waving “No On 2” signs.
The clip above features big names like AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka and former Governor Ted Strickland. Later in the show, Ed spoke to local union leaders, including Sean Grayson of AFSCME Council 8. Ed played the now widely circulated comments of Ohio Rep. Lou Blessing, who said that public workers deserve a pay cut and Republican legislators don’t; Blessing snidely added “I earn my pay.”
Collective bargaining works. Collective bargaining has worked in this state since 2008. Public servants in this state have given back to taxpayers over $8 billion in losses in pay and benefits, in unpaid furlough days and increases in health care costs. They know that Ohio is hurting and they have sacrificed. What this comment says is “we don’t have to sacrifice.”
Public employees are not an ATM machine. You can’t keep going back to their wallets time and time again and expect them to keep being able to perform their jobs.
That’s what makes this vote on Issue 2 so important. It treats workers – in this case public workers like firefighters and teachers – as commodities, not people. It treats their pensions, wages, and benefits like a piggy bank that politicians like Gov. Kasich can continue to dip into to fund what they please; be it highway privatization, tax breaks, or whatever their wealthy donors desire.
But what Kasich and the folks at Building A Better Ohio don’t understand is that their view of Middle Class workers as a source of cash for pet projects doesn’t resonate outside of the 0.1 percent bubble. What they don’t get is that people above all want fairness for their friends, neighbors, and family members. That’s why ultimately they’ll lose.