Gov Kasich Wins Bout One As Senate Bill 5, That Strips Unions Of Power, Passes Ohio Senate, Heads To House

Submitted by JournalistKathy... on Sun, 03/06/2011 - 01:23.
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By Kathy Wray Coleman, Editor of the DeterminerWeekly.Com and the Kathy Wray Coleman Online News Blog.Com (www.kathywraycolemanonlinenewsblog.com and www.determinerweekly.com

A Republican fueled bill that takes away the right of Ohio public employees to strike and significantly curtails collective bargaining rights of police and other unions  passed the Ohio Senate this evening and is now headed to the House of Representatives, where Republicans have a commanding majority over Democrats, 59  to 40. And though Senate Republicans have a 23-10 majority, the bill narrowly passed the Senate, 17 to 16, with six Republicans joining all 10 of the Democrats in opposing it.

And Black leaders are not being quiet about it either. 

“The question is is this politics or politricks, and it seems like a lot of politricks in my mind,” said State Sen Nina Turner (D-25), a Cleveland Democrat.

The bill, which is the baby of Ohio Republican Gov. John Kasich,  represents a sweeping overhaul of collective bargaining, the cornerstone of America's unions. It would essentially limit collective bargaining to negotiations on wages and strips unions of binding arbitration on pensions, health care and practically everything else. It's most stinging provisions are penalties for employee walkouts and the elimination of the power to strike, the most prominent means used by unions to minimize the abuse by management on things such as work hours, teacher tenure, and employee layoffs, overtime and sick leave.

U.S. Rep. Marcia L. Fudge (D-11), whose district includes parts of Cleveland and its eastern suburbs, spoke against SB 5 on the House floor today in Wash., D.C., though ministerial from a congressional standpoint since public employee collective baragining is a state legislated issue removed from the authority of federal lawmakers.  But that has not stopped federal lawmakers from Ohio like Fudge, Rep Betty Sutton (D-13) and Rep. Dennis Kucinich (D-10) from speaking out.  Ohio's only Black congressperson and the mayor of Warrensville Hts, Oh. before joining Congress, Fudge has been in the trenches on SB 5 in recent weeks, rallying her constituents to join the anti-SB 5 protests that began a few weeks ago at the Statehouse in Columbus.

“I firmly support the right of public employees to collectively negotiate, and who are we as a nation when we tell our firefighters, police and other public protectors that they deserve to have no say in their working conditions,” said Fudge in a press release to the DeterminerWeekly.Com and the Kathy Wray Coleman Online News Blog.Com. “Does a teacher's  experience or education have no economic value?  Ohio needs jobs, not a partisan victory. I urge members of the Ohio General Assembly to deliberate with care and to avoid rushing to adopt a measure that weakens our middle class.”

State Rep. John Barnes Jr.  (D-12), a Cleveland Democrat,  called SB 5 a nail in the coffin of the middle class and the working poor, and an unprecedented rebuke of the Democratic process.

Asked if it hurts the Black community, Barnes said that “anything that hurts working class people hurts all communities.”

If SB 5 passes the House it would need only Kasich's signature to become law.  He  called its  passage by the Senate this evening a win for Ohioans as he seeks to minimize an $8 billion budget deficit.

“This is a major step forward in the imbalance between taxpayers and the government and unions that work for them,” said the governor in a press statement, a public employee himself who narrowly defeated one-term  Democratic Gov Ted Strickland as part of a Republican sweep in Nov. of statewide offices, including the sweeping win by Republican Ohio Supreme Court Chief Justice Maureen O'Connor over Democrat Eric Brown. 

Yesterday some 15,000 teachers, firefighters, policemen, nurses, electricians, and  a host of other union affiliates from across Ohio swarmed the Statehouse in protest of today's Senate vote on the union reform measure, including members of AFSCME, the Cleveland Police Patrolmens's Association, and the powerful Ohio Education Association, the state's most influential union and the one that gives the most monies to Democratic candidates seeking political office in Ohio.

Kasich, 58,  joined Republican Gov Scott Walker of Wisconsin and other fiscal conservatives in Indiana and elsewhere in pushing for state legislative policy designed to subordinate America's unions, which is not a reflection of his family tree. His parents, both of whom died in a automobile accident when he was 35, were moderate Democrats.

Sponsored by Shannon Jones (R-7), a Springsboro Republican, SB 5 has become Ohio's most divisive political measure in decades, and one that shows the strength of the Ohio Republican Party, and by some standards the resolve of the Republican party from a national perspective. The conservative initiative quickly gained the ire of Democratic leaders statewide, who despised it early on as an effort to destroy the powerful unions that often dictate statewide races and presidential elections in Ohio.

Community Organizer Griot Y-Von, who helped organize buses for the Ohio Democratic Party for protests at the statehouse on SB 5, said that Kasich and the Republicans will be  punished at the ballot box in 2012 for  their anti-union thrusts. She predicts that U.S. President Barack Obama, a Democrat who has called efforts by Republican governors such as Kasich and Walker to eliminate collective bargaining in their states an assault on unions, will win Ohio next year, and a second term as president.

“The Democrats statewide, including Cuyahoga County, are now mobilized more than ever,” said Y-Von. "Senate Bill 5 hurts the Black community because we are traditionally the last hired and the first fired."

Whether Kasich's actions and what is expected to come as a win on Senate Bill 5 in the Republican loaded House will determine if Ohio voters  punish Republicans and give Ohio to the Democratric nominee for president in 2012, remains to be seen.

Like Wisconsin, Ohio is a pivotal state for presidential elections and no Republican has won the White House without first winning Ohio. Obama won  Ohio in 2008 over Republican Presidential Nominee Arizona Sen. John McCain, and that night became the first Black President of the United States of America.

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