Kasich Faces Must-Win Battle With Unions Over Collective Bargaining

Wednesday, 19 Oct 2011 05:15 AM

By Greg McDonald

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Ohio Gov. John Kasich is crisscrossing his state in hopes of winning the public over to collective-bargaining reforms he says are absolutely necessary to give state and local officials the flexibility to deal with budget problems.
 
“It’s just important for us to win, period,” the first term Republican told National Review Online in a story published Tuesday.
 
The collective-bargaining bill, known as state Senate bill 5, passed the Republican-controlled legislature last March and was signed into law by Kasich.
 
But labor activists and Democratic lawmakers organized a massive petition drive with more than 230,000 signatures to get the bill on the ballot. On Nov. 8, Ohio voters will decide its fate.
 
National Review’s Robert Costa reported the bill spearheaded by Kasich would force state employees to increase their share of pension and healthcare contributions.
 
It also would outlaw public sector strikes, ban binding arbitration. and give local officials and school boards bargaining flexibility. Automatic teacher pay raises would be replaced by a merit system.
 
The Ohio bill is similar to the one pushed through in Wisconsin earlier this year by Republican Gov. Scott Walker.
 
But one particular difference — the fact that Walker excluded police and firefighters from his reform measure and Kasich did not — is giving the Ohio governor some extra headaches.
 
Kasich’s approval ratings have suffered mightily and he is now being cast “as an enemy of public safety,” Costa wrote.
 
But Kasich is pressing on, undeterred about what a loss on the ballot initiative could mean to his political future.
 
“I’m interested in creating an environment where Ohio can be strong again, where we can have a great economy,” he said. “I’m not interested in the political. That’s of no interest to me. We don’t even think about it in this office. It’s all about jobs — who knows how to create them and how are you going to do it?”

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