Happy Labor Day from the Ohio unions!
If Timothy McVeigh Was Alive Today, He Would Be A Member Of The Tea Party
The "prior comment" that was removed simply said, "sick." It unleashed a tirade from the Facebook page administrator who spends "2 to 3 hours a day" inventing new ways to insult and ridicule Republicans and the Tea Party yet feels personally insulted by the word "sick" attributed to her Tim McVeigh post. The detractor has now been banned from the Facebook page.
This is the beginning of the silly season in Ohio, where the balance of power has shifted to "we the people" in way that is detrimental to the state.
Though there hasn't been much national attention given to Ohio's union reform measure - SB5 - things are beginning to heat up. Governor Kasich and the Republican-controlled legislature succeeded in passing some common-sense reforms that give local governments better control over their budgets.
While still allowing public employees to collectively bargain over their wages and some benefits, it removed or reduced their collective bargaining leverage in the areas of health insurance and pensions and requires government employees to pay a certain percentage of those benefits. It also requires that employee performance be a factor in determining compensation. See here and here for some basics.
Although there were some protests at the Ohio Statehouse, it wasn't anywhere near the scale of Wisconsin because the unions knew that when Governor Kasich signed SB5 into law this spring the fight had just begun.
That's because the Ohio Constitution gives "the people" the power to call for a referendum to challenge a law they don't like. If a special interest group can get 6% of the electorate to sign a petition, they can get it on the ballot and shift the balance from a republic form of government to a pure democracy in certain cases. This process can also be used to amend the Ohio Constitution. It was used in recent years to legalize casino gambling in the state after years of failing to get it through the legislature.
In this case, the unions needed around 200,000 signature. They collected over 700,000 and instead of protests at the capitol, where citizens are lobbying their elected officials as we usually see in a republic form of government, citizens are lobbying (and bullying) their fellow citizens.
"We are Ohio," the group working to repeal the union reforms, has already begun running the typical firefighters-are-going-to-die ads. They will likely follow this with the typical your-kid's-teacher-will-have-to-eat-dog-food-if-this-thing-isn't-repealed ads.
In Wisconsin, by the time the recall elections were held, the state was already benefiting from the reforms Gov. Walker and the legislature had put in place. Unfortunately, in Ohio SB5 has been put on hold, pending the outcome of the referendum. And while the law is in a holding pattern, local and county governments have been hit hard by cuts in state funding and many have made layoffs and cut services. It hasn't made Governor Kasich or the Republicans especially popular this fall, so they are starting 4th and 20 at their own 1-yard line, to use a football analogy.
That said, the economy has been so bad for so long that those of us in the private sector are seeing our 401K's decline at an alarming pace at the same time our healthcare costs are doubling and tripling. We consider ourselves lucky if our employers contribute anything at all toward our retirement plans.
Meanwhile, the unions are complaining because they're being asked to actually pay the employee's share of their pension contribution. Currently, many of them enjoy the benefit of the state or local government paying both the employer's and the employee's share of their pension contribution. Good deal if you can get it, but it's not sustainable in this day and age.
And most of us don't think it's unreasonable that public employees are being asked to pay 15% toward their health insurance premiums, when most residents in the state pay 30% or more. Or that government employees would be compensated based (in part) on merit rather than just seniority, like those of us in the private sector are.
It remains to be seen whether Building a Better Ohio will have the resources to overcome the rhetoric and the misinformation being spread by those who oppose the reforms. The unions are fighting for their lives and they are fired up.