After a year-long battle with Republican Governor John Kasich, public employees have won the war.
Last night, the state of Ohio roundly defeated the referendum on Issue 2 (or SB5), a bill that would’ve limited the collective bargaining rights of unions in the state, by a vote 62 percent to 38 percent. It’s a major victory for unions not only in the state, but abroad and a major victory for progressive ideals.
But that doesn’t mean that backers of the bill didn’t go down without a fight leading up to Election Day.
Although early voting usually goes through the Sunday before the election, Ohio Secretary of State Jon Husted declined a request from a few Democratic officials stop House Bill 224 that let the county boards of elections to end early voting on the Friday before th election instead. The American Future Fund, an organization led by Liz Cheney, was accused of organizing robo-calls that told people the election was on Wednesday and reminded them to vote ‘Yes’ on Issue 2. But according to the Huffington Post, a spokesperson for the American Future Fund blamed the alleged mishap on “gross incompetence on behalf of the phone vendor.”
The group Americans for Prosperity, headed by the billionaire conservative-leaning Koch brothers, ran ads that were edited to look like a pro-labor advocate was in support of Issue 2.
Needless to say, the victory was big news for labor. “Tonight, Ohioans delivered a clear message to corporate-backed politicians across the country that we will no longer stay silent as Wall Street tries to steal the American Dream,” said American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees (AFSCME) President Gerald W. McEntree.
Kasich also reacted. In a statement last night after the vote, the governor said that the state still needs to get its house in order and that this isn’t the end when it comes to balancing the budget.
“Despite tonight’s outcome, it doesn’t change the fact that Ohio’s ability to create a jobs-friendly climate is impacted by local governments’ ability to reduce their costs,” said Kasich. “I’m proud of our progress, but more work is needed.”
Earlier this year, Kasich claimed that the law was a tool to help the state cut costs and balance a budget. But for now 350,000 public employees have the right to negotiate the best deal possible for themselves.