July 26, 2014

Ohio voters restore collective bargaining rights

SB 5 Rally; Carl Morgano; Morgano, CarlVoters in Ohio overwhelmingly restored to public employees Nov. 8 their collective bargaining rights that a conservative majority in the state legislature – with support from Gov. John Kasich — chose to revoke earlier this year.

The mean-spirited legislative attack on collective bargaining rights was so repugnant to Ohio citizens that 1.3 million affixed their signature on petitions to place the law on the November general election ballot – a rare and not lightly taken action of direct democracy.

By nearly a two-to-one margin, Ohio voters overturned the law, sending it to the dust bin of political history, along with a strong message to conservative lawmakers that they best not again seek to trash workers’ rights to collectively bargain for wages, benefits and working conditions.

The New York Times called the landslide vote “a slap to Ohio’s governor, John Kasich, a prominent Republican who had championed the law.” Vice President Joe Biden said, “Fundamental fairness has prevailed.”

The UTU Collective Bargaining Defense Fund played a meaningful role in overturning the law, with active and retired UTU members in Ohio helping to organize public demonstrations, circulating petitions to place the law on the November ballot, and assisting in voter registration and get-out-the-vote drives that involved knocking on doors and providing rides to the polls.

The phrase repeated to Ohio voters a million times over by UTU volunteers was, “Don’t let others decide your future.”

UTU Ohio State Legislative Director Glenn Newsom spent months visiting locals and directing mail and phone messages to active and retired UTU members about the importance of voting and encouraging others to vote for repeal of the law.

This was the second victory for the UTU Collective Bargaining Defense Fund. In July, two anti-labor senators, who had voted in favor of a law similar to the one in Ohio, were removed from office in Wisconsin following a recall effort with strong UTU participation. Democrats and union leaders there now hope to channel momentum from the Ohio victory into an effort to recall Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker.