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.
If you’re angry at the financial industry, corporate-controlled media, and the enormous control they have over our elected officials and our national policies, consider the story of Ohio Governor John Kasich – a product and wholly-owned subsidiary of Wall Street and Fox News – and Issue 2. A vote for No on Issue 2 is a vote against Wall Street, Kasich, and the war on working families they continue to wage.
John Kasich served as a Republican Congressman from Ohio for 18 years. Once out, he used his political connections to get a job with the now-infamous Lehman Brothers’ investment banking firm, where he remained until the firm imploded in September 2008. Even though Lehman Brothers’ collapsed and thousands of Americans lost their investments, Kasich received a salary of $182,692 and a performance bonus of $432,000 – almost ten times Ohio’s median household income.
Also during his post-Congress years, Kasich used his political and financial connections to get his own program on Fox News, and filled in regularly for Bill O’Reilly and Sean Hannity. Kasich continued to appear as a frequent guest on the Fox News Channel during his 2010 run for governor, and Fox personalities “lauded, defended, and fundraised for his campaign.” (Said Glenn Beck to Kasich on his radio show: “I think I love you.”)
Given this background, it’s no surprise that in less than a year Governor Kasich has shown himself to be one of the most anti-worker, pro-corporate executives in Ohio’s history. His signature legislative achievement, Senate Bill 5 (on the ballot as Issue 2), strips collective bargaining rights from over 300,000 of public workers, including police officers, firefighters, nurses, and teachers. In addition to Issue 2, Kasich has moved to privatize state services and property, including the Ohio Turnpike, while at the same time cutting taxes for already profitable large businesses.
What was harder to predict is the blatant callousness and open disrespect Kasich has shown to Ohio’s public servants. He said of those who opposed his agenda “If you’re not on the bus, we’ll run over you with the bus.” He called a police officer who gave him a ticket an “idiot” – not privately, but in front of a large crowd. In an odd delusion of grandeur, he demanded teachers unions take out a full page ad apologizing for not supporting his campaign. According to one source, he even openly referred to Senate Bill 5 as a “war” on public employees.
It appears that Kasich believes that no matter what he says, the friends he has made along the way – the Koch Brothers, the Wall Street hedge-funders, his friends at Fox News – will be there to defend him, fund him, and aid his continuing assault on the very people who make Ohio function.
Tomorrow, Ohioans will take to the polls to vote on Issue 2. A “Yes on 2” keeps the corporate-backed, politically-motivated attack on over 300,000 Ohio workers. “No on 2” repeals the measure.
We admire and support those who have taken to the streets in New York City and elsewhere as part of #OccupyWallStreet and the 99 Percent Movement. But if John Kasich succeeds and Senate Bill 5 is kept, it will be a victory for the Wall Street investors and Fox News spin-artists that have pushed Kasich for his whole career – and it will be a another defeat for American workers.
Remember the saying: “As Ohio goes, so goes the nation.” If you want to lay down a marker for the 99 Percent, show Governor Kasich and his corporate backers that the War on Workers doesn’t pay. Occupy a field office. Occupy a voting booth. Defeat John Kasich, defeat Wall Street and the 1 percent; help us turn the tide.
Here in Ohio, we are naturally focused almost exclusively on defeating Issue 2, which as you well know by now is the ballot referendum on Senate Bill 5, the legislation that removed the collective bargaining rights of Ohio’s public workers. By voting No on Issue 2, we reject Senate Bill 5.
We are now one week from Election Day and the efforts are only continuing to ramp up. By next Tuesday, some of our canvassers will have worked 16 out of the last 17 days leading up to the election. In addition, we have been bringing Working America members out to volunteer phone bank multiple times a week.
On Monday, we had the opportunity to bring our opposition to Issue 2 and our support for Occupy Cleveland together. I went with Dan O’Malley, our Field Director, and Jeremy Johnston, our Office Manager, to give a “Teach-In” on Issue 2. The crowd was small and cold, but dedicated and sincerely interested in hearing our perspective on this ballot issue.
We huddled in the only tent allowed to be up 24/7 – a medium-sized white one – and I began by talking about Working America and our support for the Occupy movement. The Occupy folks were very excited to learn that our Executive Director, Karen Nussbaum, is on board with their message, and I shared the news articles that quote Karen discussing Occupy and Working America. I also left copies for them to share with other activists who may be in and out.
I passed the proverbial mic to Dan, and he discussed Issue 2 and why this attack on workers’ rights is bad for public safety, economic fairness, and the wellness of working families in Ohio. Our captive audience asked a few questions, and we discussed further how this issue affects all of us, not just the public workers whose rights are at risk. The moment of solidarity between the “No on 2” campaign and Occupy Cleveland was critical, both for the campaign as we enter the final week, and for the Occupiers as they struggle to keep their numbers up in the bitter Cleveland cold.
Also present at the teach-in was Martha Dus, a Working America member, who expressed her agreement with what we were saying during the teach-in. Martha is a classic example of our many members who fully support the message of the Occupy movement, but who cannot be out there with the activists regularly: she is elderly, and very vulnerable to ear and respiratory infections. After the teach-in, I checked in with Martha about her experience there. She thanked me for inviting her. “It was a good outing for me” she said, “The People of America have serious work to do if we are to get out from under the money manipulators. Think positive!”
When’s the last time a ballot initiative in Ohio made it onto Comedy Central?
Last night, Jon Stewart opened The Daily Show with a segment about presidential candidate Mitt Romney, and this week’s flip flops on Ohio’s Issue 2. Quick review: Mitt Romney was for Issue 2 in June, but then on Tuesday said he had no opinion on it. After a whole host of conservative commentators lept on him for distancing himself from the anti-worker measure, Mitt followed up on Thursday during a campaign stop in Virginia saying he “fully supports” Issue 2.
Whew! Now I’m dizzy.
But Romney is just doing his best to follow public opinion. Back in June, thanks to a corporate-backed marketing blitz by Governor Kasich and his allies, Issue 2 looked like it might have a chance of surviving. However, as more Ohioans understand that Issue 2 is bad for families, bad for Ohio’s economy, and bad for public safety – thanks in part to Working America’s tenacious canvassing effort – polls are showing opposition to the measure increasing.
We’re glad these incidents are getting wider coverage. If Republican establishment figures like Romney are more hesitant to back attacks on workers like Issue 2, it means they are starting to realizing that the War on Workers – launched by Kasich, Walker, and their corporate allies – are losers at the ballot box.
Mitt Romney has made a career of trying to have it both ways. In Ohio this week, he remained consistent to being inconsistent. Classic Romney!
The Republican presidential candidate, visited a phone bank in Terrace Park, Ohio, where the state GOP is pushing Issue 2 and 3. Issue 2 would reduce collective bargaining to “collective begging” for over 300,000 Ohio workers, and Issue 3 is a Tea Party-backed nonsensical attack on the Affordable Care Act.
The candidate visited and shook hands with the folks helping the attack on Ohio public safety, workers’ rights, and health care access, but get this – Romney has “no opinion” on Issue 2 and 3.
• As Governor of Massachusetts, Romney instituted a health care plan with an individual mandate, similar to the Affordable Care Act. Supporters of Issue 3 are attacking the Affordable Care Act.
• Issue 2 is the question of whether or not public workers have the right to bargain collectively and have a voice at the table, and for a presidential candidate not to have an opinion on that is irresponsible.
Romney’s reticence on Issue 2 is similar to his floppiness on “right to work.” He’s pushed for right-to-work legislation in New Hampshire in an effort to rally the support among conservatives in that primary state, but won’t say that he supports a federal version. “If there were a federal right-to-work law that reached my desk, I’d support it,” he said in August. Classic Romney!
This isn’t what Tea Partiers want to hear. FreedomWorks, Dick Armey’s grassroots group, has been working Ohio hard. They’ve put up a campaign site (YesForJobs.com), opened nine distribution centers for volunteers, and pushed out more than 120,000 door hangers and 18,000 yard signs, all “yes” on 2 and 3.
“I’m not happy with Romney about his silence on Issues 2 and 3,” said Brendan Steinhauser, FreedomWorks’s director of state campaigns, in an e-mail, “but then again, I’m not surprised. He doesn’t believe in what we believe in –- nor is he willing to fight for these ideas. We are working VERY hard in Ohio for these campaigns and he is only interested in his own ambition to be president. Kasich = Courage and Romney = Empty Suit.”
Since our last roundup, the corporate-backed pro-Issue 2 crowd has really astounded us with their lack of shame. Sure, we knew they were political opponents, but the battle they are fighting is not just about teachers and firefighters anymore; if Issue 2 survives 21 days from now, it’ll send a signal that this kind of behavior is acceptable.
Let’s send a message. This is your Ohio roundup:
• Pro-Issue 2 Groups Raise Money Off of Marlene Quinn. It doesn’t seem that Building A Better Ohio got the message from 30 TV stations pulling their political ad that takes the words of grandmother Marlene Quinn and twists them around to support Issue 2. Instead of making any sort of conciliatory statement for using a private citizen’s words without her permission, they are actually trying to raise money off the incident.
“Opponents of Issue 2 usually complain the loudest when our message is working, and they clearly don’t want Ohioans to hear what this ad has to say,” reads the fundraising email from Building a Better Ohio, before asking for a donation.
What planet are they on? First of all, your message isn’t “working” if it gets pulled off of almost all the TV stations in Ohio. Second, not only do we disagree with what you have to say – that’s old news – you used a woman’s image and words without her permission to say it. Thousands of Ohioans, including over 600 Working America members, sent messages to their local TV stations to pull down your ad because your tactics compelled them to do so.
The same people who crow about individual freedoms are trying to blast the airwaves with an ad that made Marlene Quinn, in her own words, feel “violated.”No shame, none at all.
• Mike Huckabee: Election Fraud is Hilarious! Last seen losing the presidential primary to John McCain and snagging a Fox News gig in the process, former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee popped up at an event in Warren County to benefit “Building a Better Ohio.” To supposedly, lighten the mood, Huckabee told the crowd a “joke” about how they should do whatever it takes to keep Ohioans who oppose Issue 2 from voting:
“Make a list. Call them and ask them, ‘Are you going to vote for Issue 2 and are you going to vote for it?’” Huckabee advised, according to an audio recording provided by a foe of the initiative. “If they say no, well, you just make sure that they don’t go vote. Let the air out of their tires on election day. Tell them the election has been moved to a different date. That’s up to you how you creatively get the job done.“
This isn’t the first time Huckabee has suggested voter suppression tactics in the form of a “joke.” In 2009, he also recommended slashing tires to keep Democratic voters from making it to the polls in Virginia, even referring to it as doing “the Lord’s work.”
That’s right, the former minister called voter suppression and election fraud “the Lord’s work.” No shame, none at all.
Hopefully, someone at Building a Better Ohio will decide to get their house in order, apologize to Marlene Quinn and actually try to win the campaign on the issues. But since they know they’re wrong, and we know they’re wrong, and over 50 percent of Ohioans know they’re wrong, that doesn’t seem likely.
The special interest money is flowing more forcefully into Ohio than the Cuyahoga River. Direct mail is hitting boxes, misleading TV ads blare on every channel; and because of Ohio election laws, it’s just the start.
This is your Ohio Roundup:
• Get Ready: Karl Rove Is Coming to Ohio. Karl Rove has been busy since the disastrous Bush Administration. Because of the Citizens United ruling, Rove’s shadowy organization American Crossroads and its offshoot group Crossroads GPS can raise and spend unlimited funds on political activity. During the 2010 midterm elections, the Crossroads groups helped elect dozens of new anti-worker politicians to Congress.
Now Rove is once again bringing his Bush-era brand of divisive, incendiary politics to the Buckeye State in a big way – he told the Columbus Dispatch that he wants to raise $250 million for his activities, with a focus on Ohio.
Ohioans: If you needed a reason to vote No On Issue 2, just remember that Karl Rove wants you to vote Yes. He was wrong about President George W. Bush, and he’s wrong about Ohio’s future too.
• Cutting Through the Confusion. We’re hearing at the doors a variety of confused responses about Issue 2. Partly this is because No On Issue 2 repeals Senate Bill 5, leading some to refer to “Issue 5.” Remember, to support Ohio workers, vote No on Issue 2.
But that’s not the only confusion Ohio voters are dealing with. A new ad from the “Yes on 2” campaign uses former firefighter and current mayor of Toledo Mike Bell. Kasich and his buddies know that Senate Bill 5 takes away rights from firefighters and endangers their safety, and they know that aspect of the Bill is unpopular, so they are deliberately confusing voters by using a former firefighter as a spokesperson.
Don’t be fooled! If you support firefighters, and you support public safety, vote No On Issue 2. While Mayor Bell used to be a firefighter, and we are grateful for that service, he has now joined the ranks of anti-worker politicians playing the insider’s game. Why else would he side with Governor Kasich to take away rights from his former colleagues?
• Polls Tightening. Unfortunately, the Governor’s misleading tactics are paying dividends. A new Quinnipiac poll shows that 51 percent want to repeal SB 5 (aka No On 2), while 38 want to keep it. In July, the numbers were 56 to 32.
“Support for repealing the bill in the November referendum has dropped from a 24-point to a 13-point margin,” said Quinnipiac’s Peter Brown, “Backers of SB 5 have only six weeks to make up the difference, although public opinion appears to be moving in their direction.”