Ohioans overwhelmingly rejected Issue 2, a ballot referendum on Senate Bill 5, a union-busting bill that restricts collective bargaining rights for more than 360,000 public employees and slashes benefits. The measure is almost identical to Wisconsin’s union-busting bill and this defeat will no doubt be seen as the first in a string of challenges to the hard-right turn many states took as a result of the November 2010 midterm election.
Labor wasted no time in celebrating the victory, issuing a statement declaring success and promising more battles. “One message rang loud and clear tonight in Ohio and across the country: those who spend their time scapegoating workers and pushing a partisan agenda will only strengthen the resolve of working people, said AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka. “From the very beginning, itís been clear that Gov. Kasich, and indeed many politicians, were pushing an agenda that was about politics, not about solving our nationís problems or creating jobs.”
SB 5 had come to define Republican Gov. John Kasich’s first year in office, and for that, he can’t be feeling good. With three years left in his term, he became the public face of the showdown between middle class Americans and the flood of corporate cash behind the measure. For his part Kasich promised to “take a breath” and “listen to the people” but was quick to add he still needed to “lead.”
What that means after tonight’s loss though remains unclear. Not all of the bill is dead, and some of it was popular among Ohioans, including provisions that required public employees to contribute to their health care and pension benefits.
With this victory in hand sights now set on Wisconsin, where Gov. Scott Walker faces a recall election in response to his agenda.
And then it’s on to 2012.
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Photo from crazy-jake via flickr.