The Long Shadow of Issue 2: Ohio Republicans Kill “Right to Work” Legislation
Up until just a couple of days ago, it was widely assumed in the local media that Republicans, who control the Ohio General Assembly by large margins, would introduce legislation to make Ohio a “right to work” state, like most Southern states and Texas.
As the Cleveland Plain Dealer reports, it ain’t happenin’. Senate President Keith Faber said, “After discussions with other leaders and my caucus, I don’t believe there is current support for this issue in the General Assembly. The only purpose this discussion serves right now is to generate a bunch of breathless fundraising appeals from the Ohio Democratic Party.”
Well, that’s a partial truth, I’ll give him that. The real reason is that some Republicans, probably including Governor John Kasich, have a political survival instinct. Just two years ago, Kasich signed Senate Bill 5 into law, which effectively banned all public sector workers from unionizing. The cops, firefighters, teachers, and a whole host of other public employees went to war, and got Senate Bill 5 on the ballot as Issue 2. It went down in flames with almost two-thirds of Ohio voters giving a thumbs down.
Subsequent attempts to resurrect it piecemeal were shot down by Kasich but, not to be deterred, the Really Crazy wing of the Ohio GOP, mostly based in southern Ohio, decided to go whole hog and effectively emasculate ALL unions with “Right to Work” legislation, which makes it optional for union members to pay union dues.
I’m sure most people here on FDL are very well aware of the effects of such laws: weaker unions, lower wages, even fewer benefits, and a lower standard of living for the working class. If such legislation was actually passed and signed into law, there would have been another Issue 2 or the equivalent on the ballot in nothing flat. The Ohio Republican leadership, who above all want to be re-elected, wouldn’t touch that live wire with Nancy Pelosi’s botox.
There’s an important lesson here for the left. When the majority of people effectively mobilize around an issue AND win decisively at the polls, even corporatist politicians will hesitate to put their own precious political lives on the line by trying to screw the people again, at least for a few years. The key is to keep the pressure up.
“Eternal vigilance is the price of liberty.” Old Thomas Jefferson’s words still ring true.