An overhaul of Cincinnati’s pension system backed by the Tea Party was thoroughly crushed on Tuesday. Cincinnati voters rejected the charter amendment, known as Issue 4, by a 57-point margin.
Issue 4 was placed on the ballot by a private group known as the Cincinnati for Pension Reform Committee. It would have required the city to pay off its $872 million unfunded liability in the current pension system within 10 years, or find cost savings or new revenue elsewhere to make up the difference.
Making up that huge gap, exacerbated by the 2008 financial crisis, is nearly impossible in 10 years. That’s the point: Issue 4 was a barely concealed attempt to force cuts to public services in Cincinnati, and generally pit the city’s citizens against the workers who make it run.
The city is already taking steps to address the $872 million liability in a number of ways–and as with most cities, the public workers themselves are bearing the brunt. Issue 4 would have put those changes on steroids, and would have lead to either tax increases or cuts to public safety and city services: closed firehouses, slower emergency response times, and staffing shortages when we need help the most.
It’s no wonder then that opposing Issue 4 united unlikely allies: the Chamber of Commerce, AFSCME, firefighters, and the editorial board of the right-leaning Cincinnati Enquirer. “Today’s vote will be heard beyond Cincinnati and sends a message for those on the ideological extremes who think it is ok to impose their agenda on an entire city,” said Peter Linden of AFSCME Ohio Council 8, “Had this passed, outside money and political extremists would have cost Cincinnati taxpayers more money, with less services.”
It’s been two years since Ohio voters of all political stripes overturned Gov. John Kasich’s Senate Bill 5, which stripped collective bargaining from over 300,000 public workers. It’s been one year since Ohio voters chose pro-worker Senator Sherrod Brown over the Tea Party-affiliated Josh Mandel. Since that time, the effort to get a so-called “right to work” on the 2014 Ohio ballot has faltered, collecting less than a third of the signatures needed in 20 months.
It’s time that the corporate-backed anti-worker forces in Ohio get it through their heads that Ohioans are interested in more jobs and a stronger economy; not fewer rights at work, fewer public services, and attacks on the workers who are already making the most sacrifices.
Tags: afscme, Chamber of Commerce, cincinnati, Josh Mandel, Ohio, public workers, Right to Work, SB5, secure retirement, Sherrod Brown
Working America has strong connections to the state of Ohio. Some of our first pilot programs started in the Buckeye State, and over a million Ohioans call themselves Working America members.
Ohio features some of the closest and most crucial political races in the country. Working America has looked at the candidates and ballot options, and we endorse the following:
Sherrod Brown for U.S. Senate
Yes on Issue 2
Betty Sutton for U.S. Congress (OH-16) – Find your district here.
All endorsements after the jump.
Tags: Betty Sutton, Ohio, Sherrod Brown, voting rights
Voters of Ohio’s new 16th District (check here to see if that includes you) have a unique opportunity – return one current Congressperson to Washington and send one home. Both Betty Sutton and Jim Renacci have clear voting records, and when it comes to working families, the overwhelming choice is Democrat Betty Sutton.
Rep. Sutton’s votes reflect an understanding that Rep. Renacci’s votes do not: that government has a limited but crucial role to play in economic recovery. Like U.S. Sherrod Brown, she fought hard for the rescue of the auto industry, as well as the “mini-stimulus” of the “Cash for Clunkers” program. She was recognized with a Distinguished Service Award from the Ohio Automobile Dealers Association (OADA) for her commitment to creating and retaining the jobs of autodealers and workers.
She voted for Obamacare, which has allowed thousands of Ohioans to afford health insurance and saved prescription drug costs for thousands of Ohio seniors. She opposed the “Ryan budget,” which would gut funding for education, cripple Medicaid, and end Medicare as we know it; Jim Renacci voted for it.
Rep. Sutton has also been recognized for her work on behalf of veterans. She worked on the Stop-Loss Compensation Act and the new GI Bill, and was named Legislator of the Year by the Ohio American Veterans Association. When the VA made plans to move their Lorain clinic to a less accessible location, Rep. Sutton was instrumental in making sure it remained at the readily accessible St. Joseph Community Center.
Republicans designed the 16th District especially to give Rep. Renacci a leg up. Yet Sutton has received the endorsements of every newspaper that covers the area, and the race is nearly tied. That is because the choice is abundantly clear: Renacci has fought for obstruction and austerity, while Sutton has fought for jobs, jobs, and jobs.
We endorse Rep. Betty Sutton for Ohio’s 16th Congressional District. Plan your vote now.
Photo by AFL-CIO on Flickr
Tags: Betty Sutton, endorsement, Ohio, Sherrod Brown
There is no one in Washington fighting harder for Ohio working families than Sherrod Brown.
When the economic crisis threatened to topple the auto industry, which supports one of out every eight Ohio jobs, Senator Brown worked with President Bush in 2008 and President Obama in 2009 and 2010 to find the best solution. The bold action by Senator Brown and the Obama Administration, though unpopular at the time, rescued a key American industry from collapse and has done wonders for the recovering Midwest economy.
His work extends far beyond the auto rescue, however. He has been a leading voice against tax breaks for companies that ship jobs overseas. He has been a passionate, unwavering defender of the Affordable Care Act from the very beginning, even as big money poured in against it. He is also steadfast in his belief that we must end “corporate personhood.”
For these reasons and others, $26 million of out-of-state, anonymous donations have flooded Ohio this past year, attacking Senator Brown and promoting his Republican opponent, first-term State Treasurer Josh Mandel. Brown faces more spending from his opposition than any other senator or Senate candidate in the country. This is is already the most expensive race in Ohio’s history.
This is no accident. The anonymous donors behind that $26 million – Wall Street, Karl Rove, oil companies, insurance interests, CEO’s who want “corporate personhood” to remain in place – recognize Sherrod Brown as a key obstacle in their efforts to exert control over our pocketbooks, our votes, and our elected officials. They can’t voucherize Medicare, dismantle Social Security, or continue to run the Wall Street casino while Sherrod Brown stands in their path.
While we respect his military service, there’s no doubt that Brown’s opponent, Treasurer Josh Mandel has run an exceedingly dishonest campaign. And when he is pressed on his agenda, what comes out is wholly against the interests of working families: repealing Obamacare, ending Medicare as we know it, keeping subsidies for oil companies and protecting tax breaks for outsourcers. In three debate performances, his conduct has been unbecoming of a Senate candidate but emblematic of today’s anti-worker Republican Party; calling Senator Brown a “liar” with no proof, repeating the debunked statement that Senator Brown “stole from Medicare,” and doubling down on his claim that support of the auto-rescue was “un-American.”
But even when not compared to his opponent, Sherrod Brown is passionate fighter for Ohio jobs, workers’ rights, and solutions that will aid our economic recovery. We urge a vote for Senator Sherrod Brown - plan your vote now.
Photo by USDAgov on Flickr.
Tags: endorsement, Josh Mandel, Ohio, Sherrod Brown
The following is a guest post by Sylvia Bly, a Cleveland Working America member.
Recently, I went to a U.S. Senate field hearing in Cleveland about House Bill 194. I heard arguments for and against HB 194, a bill that’s a real stinker to me. Its main objectives are to make it much harder to cast your vote, count fewer votes and remove local control for each county.
The courtroom was pretty formidable, but once the hearing started, I was transfixed on the due process I was witnessing. This hearing went to the heart of the issue: HB 194 would impede voters from exercising their rights. Listening to Senator Richard Durbin (D-IL), our own Senator Sherrod Brown (D-OH), and Congresswoman Marcia Fudge (D-OH) was inspiring, but it also dredged up some memories of a time of great turmoil in our nation.
I remember when I was a young girl and Jim Crow laws were in place in the Southern states. Jim Crow laws, which existed until 1965, were all about a “separate but equal” status for African-Americans. During the ‘60’s our nation was embroiled with civil unrest between those who wanted to keep minorities “in their place” with all the economic, educational and social inadequacies, while others fought to right these wrongs. I think about how my own mother was born a mere nine years after women won the right to vote. So now in Ohio and across the nation, we’re witnessing new legislation to turn back the clock and erase so much of the progress that’s been made to empower all of us to fully participate in our elections.
HB 194 was supposedly introduced to address voter fraud. But how come, when asked, none of the panelists in support of HB 194 could present a single documented case of such fraud? That reinforced my suspicion that the real reason for HB 194 is voter suppression. If I had my say, any legislator who wants to introduce a bill that restricts my opportunities to vote should have to prove the need for these changes. Otherwise whatever party is in office could finagle legislation in favor of their own party’s agenda. That’s not democracy, people.
Abraham Lincoln said it best in the Gettysburg Address when he wrote that our government is a “government of the people, by the people, for the people.” Every provision in HB 194 is a huge step backward and undermines the very foundation of our Republic. I’m having such a difficult time comprehending how any legislator who takes an oath of office to ensure their constituents’ inalienable rights would work to get around not just the letter of the law, but more importantly, the spirit of the law. We pay their salaries with our tax dollars; these legislators are supposed to be working for us.
After Ohioans worked hard to gather over 300,000 signatures to put this bill to a vote, House Republicans voted to repeal HB 194. Not only did they prevent the people of our state from having their say, but the GOP also left in place provisions that eliminated voting the weekend before the election. Now it seems to me that if a bill is going to be repealed, it should be repealed in total. I mean, wouldn’t it be nice to buy a CD, burn your favorite songs and return it? That’s why return policies were written and are enforced. Meanwhile, our referendum is null and void. It’s amazing to me how our legislators have decided they have no rules and don’t have to answer to their own constituents.
I guess my fellow Working America members and I need to work even harder to make sure our elected officials in Columbus are listening to working families across the state. Join me and become a super activist in Ohio.
Tags: Ohio, Sherrod Brown, voting rights
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.
Tags: Issue 2, John Kasich, Ohio, SB5, Sherrod Brown