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Kasich Comes Crawling Back to Labor, Asking for a Deal on SB 5

This is pretty funny.

The story goes like this: Ohio Republicans took a page from Wisconsin’s book and rammed through SB 5, a bill that strips most collective bargaining rights and the right to strike from public employees. They used some real strong-arm tactics toward members of their own party to do it; they pulled Republicans off committees who weren’t going to vote for the bill. That hurdle cleared, the bill passed in March, despite mass rallies against it, despite total lack of support from Democrats and the public.

But in Ohio, they have this law. You can put a referendum on the ballot to overturn a bill if you get the required signatures. This stops the bill from going into effect. Unions and progressive groups collected far more signatures than they needed to repeal SB 5, almost 1.3 million in all, getting it on the November ballot. And polls showed them headed to victory, with SB 5 slated to go down by 20 points.

Now, after all that, with Ohio Republicans on the precipice of spending all that political capital with nothing to show for it but lowered approval ratings, now Gov. John Kasich and the legislature wants to make a deal.

Gov. John Kasich pleaded with organized labor leaders today to compromise on Senate Bill 5 and cancel a fall referendum on the controversial bill that peels back public employee collective bargaining rights.

Kasich said avoiding a fight over state Issue 2 is in “best interest of everyone, including public employee unions.” He asked the unions to “set aside political agendas and past offenses.” […]

The governor said the offer stems from him being a “believer in talking,” and not out of “a fear we are going to lose.” Kasich asked for a delegation of 10 public employee union leaders to talk Friday with state officials.

Fellow Republicans William G. Batchelder, Ohio House speaker from Medina, and Senate President Tom Niehaus of New Richmond, joined the governor at this afternoon’s press conference.

Shorter Kasich: Wahh, wahh, wahh. As soon as he is staring an epic loss in the face, now he wants to compromise and bargain. Now he wants to set aside political agendas.

He should have thought of that this spring. The coalition We Are Ohio, which put the bill on the ballot, wants no part of this nonsense. “Our message is clear. These same politicians who passed this law could repeal it and not thwart the will of the people,” said spokeswoman Melissa Fazekas. And the state Democratic Party as well as the state AFL-CIO agreed. They know they have no reason to humor the newfound “Great Compromiser” John Kasich.

This was a massive overreach on the part of Kasich and the Ohio GOP, and this effort to play take-backs and act in the spirit of compromise is pathetic. They’re going to get their tails handed to them in November, and for good reason.

…Just to lay this out, We Are Ohio has until August 30 to take down the referendum. But judging from their statement, there’s little chance of that.

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David Dayen

David Dayen