Ohio Gov. John Kasich signed a controversial collective-bargaining bill Thursday evening, a measure similar to the Wisconsin bill that spurred protests from coast to coast and that dramatically limits the bargaining power of unionized state workers, including firefighters and teachers.
|Ohio Gov. John Kasich
The Senate voted 17-16 for the measure yesterday after the House of Representatives passed it earlier in the day. Kasich has backed the bill, which also would require government workers to make minimum payments for health-care coverage and pensions.
Ohio Democrats have pledged to ask voters to repeal Senate Bill 5. That would require more than 231,000 voters to sign petitions within 90 days of passage to prevent it from taking effect until the public vote, according to the secretary of state.
The measure and a similar bill sought by Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker have spurred nationwide labor protests.
“These folks are not numbers on a page or lines on a graph,” said Representative Matt Szollosi, a Democrat from Oregon, near Toledo. “They do not deserve to be slapped in the face and put further into harm’s way, because the liberty groups or Tea Party groups or whoever is pulling the Republican strings right now have demonized public workers.”
The measure is likely to set off a statewide campaign that promises to be one of the biggest ballot battles in recent memory, The Cleveland Plain Dealer
The campaign, called We Are Ohio, will coordinate efforts to write a ballot issue, gather signatures to place a referendum on the November ballot and raise money to persuade Ohioans to throw out SB 5, the newspaper reported.
"This is going to be a very big campaign," We Are Ohio spokesman Dennis Willard told the newspaper, noting that that the collective bargaining debate is drawing attention from supporters and opponents from other states as well as from numerous interest groups here.
A competing website has also been launched by supporters, called sb5truth.com.
Ohio Chamber of Commerce President Andrew Doehrel told the Plain Dealer he'd be shocked if either side spent $20 million.
"You can do a heck of a statewide campaign for $6 to $8 million dollars," he said.
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