Ohio Rejects Issue 2 as Republicans Accept Defeat

A vote on Tuesday night in Ohio saw the repeal of a Republican-backed law that restricted collective bargaining for public workers, writes Rachel Weiner at the Washington Post.

The law (named Issue 2) was declared dead with the repeal led by a 62 to 38 percent margin.

Gov. John Kasich (R) took office in January vowing to curb unions’ power but he appears to have failed in curtailing the rights of 350,000 public workers — including firefighters and police officers — to negotiate over benefits, equipment and other issues.

This was a long time coming. Practically, since Kasich signed the law in March the backlash began. By August, when the governor asked for a compromise with unions, it was too late.

“It’s clear that the people have spoken and my view is, when people speak in a campaign like this you have to listen,” Kasich said in a press conference after the results came in.

“But let me be clear, there is no bailout coming” for the state, he said, adding that he would work with local governments to curb costs.

“This was an effort by the entire labor movement in the state,” said Lee Saunders, secretary-treasurer of the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees. “All labor was together.”

Labor groups, led by the National Education Association and the Ohio Education Association poured $30 million into the repeal effort. Opponents of repeal, under the banner “Build A Better Ohio,” raised only $7.5 million.

“This was a thrashing in Ohio — a huge overreach by extremist Republicans and an enormous victory for average working families,” said Steve Rosenthal, a longtime Democratic labor strategist.

“A sleeping giant may have been awoken in the process. In Ohio nearly 30 percent of the vote in 2012 will come from union households. There is enormous energy coming off this victory.”

Republicans argued that the legislation was not only fair, but necessary to balance the budget. Democrats and unions argued that it was a senseless attack on hardworking public servants.