Attack on the Middle Class in Ohio

Below you will find links to several articles that illustrate the GOP power grab taking place in the State of Ohio. Follow the links to read further.

Corporate Union Busters Draw First Blood in Ohio
The national corporate campaign to destroy America’s public sector unions has drawn first blood in Ohio.

But a counter-attack centered on one or more statewide initiatives or constitutional amendments has become highly likely.

While thousands of protesters chanted, spoke and sang inside and outside the statehouse for the past two weeks (SB 5 Rally), the Ohio Senate voted 17-16 on Senate Bill 5, a bill that will slash collective bargaining for state workers by banning strikes and giving local officials the right to settle disputes. The bill, among other things, also eliminates all paid sick days from teachers.

The vote came amid shouts of “shame on you” and widespread booing from the diverse crowd of teachers, police, firefighters, construction workers, state employees and more

Videos: Ohio Protests Union-Busting Senate Bill, Gov Calls Cop an “Idiot”
Ohio Gov. John Kasich’s disregard for the working class people of his state is only matched by his contempt for the laws of the land that he thinks don’t apply to him.

In the following YouTube video, Kasich asks the group “Have you ever been stopped by a police officer who was an idiot?” Kasich tells a crowd that an “idiot” police officer pulled him over while he drove on State Route 315. He goes on to call the officer an “idiot” twice more during his speech. He then goes on to demean the reason he was pulled over, failing to yield for an emergency vehicle. Kasich was issued a citation during the 2008 encounter.

Now that the video has hit Youtube years after-the-fact, Gov. Kasich decided perhaps he should apologize.

Kasich to Ohio: ‘Get on the Bus, or get Run over …’
Kasich tried to ban the media and the public from his inauguration.

He has warned opponents that they had better “get on the bus or get run over by the bus.”

Polls are showing overwhelming support for public workers, in part due to the blatant attack on Ohio’s police and firefighters who are now barred from negotiating on safety issues.

The bill bans binding arbitration used in the past to settle negotiations, and instead allows management to pick the settlement it wants. [Ohio Senate Bill 5] [pg 2]

Union Protests Are Spreading To Ohio As Kasich Tries To Break Collective Bargaining

In Madison, Wisconsin, crowds that police estimated at 25,000 engulfed the Capitol and its lawns yesterday during a third-straight day of protests as Democratic senators fled the legislative session. In Columbus, Ohio, about 3,800 state workers, teachers and other public employees came to the statehouse for a committee hearing. President Barack Obama and House Speaker John Boehner, an Ohioan, arguedover whether the bills are “an assault on unions.”

Ohio firefighters Dave Hefflinger and Jerry Greer said they were. They stood near hundreds of workers elbow-to-elbow in the statehouse atrium and listened to a Senate hearing through speakers. Chants of “Kill the bill” echoed.

“We’re here to support our brothers and sisters,” Hefflinger, a 27-year veteran, said in an interview. “They’re trying to take away what we fought for all of these years.”

Hefflinger, 49, and Greer, 39, members of the department in Findlay, Ohio, drove two hours south to protest the bill. The measure would eliminate collective bargaining for state workers, prevent local-government employees from negotiating for health insurance and replace salary schedules with merit pay.

Ohio Republicans Announce They’ll Cut Medicaid To Fund… You Guessed It, More Tax Cuts!
Take a look at this infuriating news from Ohio. By the way, I expect this tactic to be repeated across the country by the new Republican governors, because this is one of the ways they plan to throw a monkey wrench into healthcare reform.

In other words, party first, country second:

From the Columbus Dispatch, we learn that Republicans plan on drastically cutting Medicaid eligibility as a means to balance the budget and pay for the tax cuts they passed in 2005, and any additional tax cuts Governor-elect Kasich intends on passing.

After his speech, the Medina resident said that kind of shortfall means there is no way to avoid making significant changes to Medicaid, the $12.5 billion state-federal health insurance program for the poor and disabled.

“First, we have to apply for exceptions, a lot of them,” Batchelder said, noting that in the past, the state asked the federal government for permission to expand Medicaid eligibility, but leaders now must go the other direction.

Asked if that meant reducing eligibility to 100 percent of the federal poverty level, $22,050 for a family of four, Batchelder said, “That seems to me to be inevitable.”

Conservative husband apologizes to his wife, a teacher after he voted for Kasich.
Instead, I want to quote another self-described conservative who had a lot to say about character. His recent e-mail to me echoed the sentiments expressed by many readers who object to various states’ legislative attacks against public school teachers, including those in Ohio. These letters and e-mails are not from teachers, but from those who love them.

This particular reader is a business analyst. He made it clear that, while our dads held similar blue-collar jobs, he and I grew up to disagree on many issues. He’s not a fan.

But he does share my high regard for the men and women paid by taxpayers to teach America’s children. He’s been married to one of those dedicated public servants in Cleveland for nearly 14 years.

“We spend tons of money on supplies for the kids,” he wrote. “I have begged her to leave Cleveland and she refuses to because it is her calling. I should be so lucky.”

To insulate this man and his wife from the current blood sport of teacher-bashing, I won’t name them. He did give me permission to share the recent letter of apology he wrote to his wife:

Ohio Voters Turn on Kasich
After winning a narrow victory last year one would believe Ohio Gov. John Kasich would want to tread lightly. However, with their all-out war on working Americans and their campaign to completely annihilate unions Republicans are doing anything but treading lightly. Now we are seeing the results of their actions. In states where they are waging war against workers the hardest voters are turning against the greediest and least patriotic among us as they continue to steal the American dream and give it to their elitist handlers.

Now it appears Wisconsin is not alone in turning against their elitist Governor and his war on middle-class jobs. In Ohio, voters are beginning to widely reject a Governor waging a similar war:

According to the poll, Strickland would win a re-do election, 55-40 percent. Kasich knocked incumbent Strickland out of office in November, 49-47 percent.

The poll also found that if Senate Bill 5-legislation to limit collective bargaining rights for public workers-becomes law, that voters would back repealing it at the ballot box.

The poll found that 54 percent would vote to repeal the law, while 31 percent would vote to keep it.

Workers Pack Ohio Hearing to Oppose Attack on Collective Bargaining
Ohio Gov. John Kasich (R) and Republican legislators launched their biggest assault yet against Buckeye State public employees with a hearing yesterday on a bill to eliminate collective bargaining rights for all state workers, including faculty and staff at Ohio state colleges and universities.

But hundreds of firefighters, nurses, sanitation workers, bus drivers and other public employees pushed back, packing a state Senate hearing room in Columbus. The Columbus Dispatch said the turnout of workers:

was remarkable for an initial bill hearing. It not only filled the large hearing room to capacity—stacked three deep in the balcony—but also spilled into two other rooms and the spacious atrium.

Workers say the bill—introduced by Sen. Shannon Jones (R)—is a distraction from the balanced approach needed to create jobs and solve the budget crisis and lowers the bar for all Ohio workers at a time when they are struggling to make ends meet. Ohio AFL-CIO President Tim Burga says:

Republicans Declare War on Workers
But what’s really galling about Kasich’s proposals—and he has other middle-class-killing ideas, including eliminating the state requirement that even non-union construction contractors have to pay union-scale wages—is that John Kasich is the son of a letter carrier.

That’s right. The man who has declared war not just on unions but by extension on middle class wage earners is the son of a mailman, who was represented by—guess what?—a labor union. The National Association of Letter Carriers represents all of the nation’s more than 200,000 letter carriers—even if they don’t pay dues to the union.

Here’s the way the Ohio Republican Party described the GOP’s newly-elected anti-union governor:

The son of a mailman, John grew up in a blue collar neighborhood in McKees Rocks, Pennsylvania, just outside of Pittsburgh. Like many Americans his values were shaped by a childhood rooted in faith, family, community and common sense.

Kasich’s blue collar background has given way to a scarlet conservatism; his childhood rooted in the Catholic faith has given way to evangelicalism; his first family has given way to divorce; and his community values and common sense have given way to the economic philosophy of the Republican Party, which is not only anti-worker, but is more than willing to hold the unfortunate among us hostage in return for billions upon billions of dollars worth of tax cuts for the wealthiest Americans, many of whom didn’t want them.

Not So Fast: Ohio’s Anti-Union SB 5 Has Several Hurdles to Clear
When we last left Ohio, the state Senate had passed a bill, SB 5, that would severely restrict collective bargaining for all public employees, including police and fire. It would all impose criminal penalties for strike actions, and allow local officials to determine arbitration disputes rather than an independent third party.

At the time, there was credible speculation that the Ohio House, which has a 59-40 split for Republicans, would quickly take up and pass the same bill, moving it on to Governor John Kasich for signing. But a funny thing happened on the way to Columbus. The House Speaker, William Batchelder, announced hearings. The first occurs today, coinciding with Kasich’s State of the State Address. Labor groups have scheduled a rally at the state Capitol for later today. Thousands are expected to attend, though it may not be as large as the estimated 20,000 who protested SB 5 last week.

Union busting: Kasich vs. the people’s chorus 3/8 (photo diary)


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