Saturday, October 29, 2011

People Power Winning in Ohio

People Power Winning in Ohio: Anti-Worker Law Repeal Favored


By Isaiah J. Poole

October 25, 2011 - 3:53pm ET


The conservative campaign against worker rights is

losing in Ohio, according to a Quinnipiac University

poll released today.


Support for the repeal of SB 5, the law pushed by Ohio

Gov. John Kasich that strips the bargaining rights of

public workers, is up to 57 percent, according to the

poll, with 32 percent supporting keeping the anti-worker

law in place. That's evidence that the grassroots

campaign to overturn the law has momentum: a month ago,

51 percent supported repeal, and 38 percent supported

keeping the law in place.


The support for the repeal effort is particularly

noteworthy given the forces arrayed against it. Today

Truthout posted a special report on the effort against

the referendum, which is fueled by literally untold

millions of dollars in corporate cash.


A lot of that cash, according to author Mike Ludwig, is

being funneled through the Republican Governors

Association, which was a major contributor to Kasich's

successful 2010 election. "The RGA is using Make Ohio

Great, a nonprofit group, to run ads featuring Kasich

discussing elements of Senate Bill 5, without explicitly

mentioning the ballot initiative. This ensures that the

group can avoid revealing its finances to state

officials. Make Ohio Great and the RGA share the same

address in Washington, DC, but the RGA is also keeping

its finances in the dark," Ludwig writes.


We Are Ohio, the grassroots, union-backed organization

leading the repeal effort, has tracked down some of the

opposition spending. "We Are Ohio told media outlets

earlier this month that Building a Better Ohio and Make

Ohio Great spent $2.8 million and $1.2 million on

television ads respectively. We Are Ohio outspent both

with $5.4 million, but a spokesperson told Truthout to

'expect to see the floodgates open up from out-of-state

special interests as we get closer and closer to

election day,'" Ludwig writes.


Kasich, as the Truthout article points out, is an

alumnus of the American Legislative Exchange Council,

the arch-conservative organization that is working to

impose its right-wing blueprint for limited, corporate-

centric government on states and localities nationwide.

Among ALEC's chief funders are the billionaire Koch

brothers as well as Bayer, Pfizer, Wal-Mart, Exxon-Mobil

and Coca-Cola.


These and other corporations have several conduits

through which they can pour cash in a last-minute effort

to defeat the repeal effort while evading public

exposure, at least during the campaign. A super PAC,

Stop Public Unions Now!, is registered with the Federal

Election Commission and has aired ads featuring Kasich

in support of SB 5, Ludwig reports.


"Other out-of-state groups defending Senate Bill 5 are

more visible than SPUN!. Americans for Prosperity, a

conservative group funded in part by the Koch brothers,

has held town halls across Ohio to convince voters that

Senate Bill 5 is good for Ohio. The Arlington, Virginia-

based Alliance for America's Future, founded by a former

Ohio GOP operative and former Vice President Dick

Cheney's daughter Mary Cheney, is sending out millions

of mailers in support of Senate Bill 5, according to

media reports," Ludwig writes.


On the other hand, the onslaught of corporate cash may

well backfire, as is Kasich's own high-handedness. What

the poll shows is that other than doctrinaire

Republicans, most Ohio voters support the basic rights

of public workers. Of the poll respondents, 61 percent

support the right of public employees to strike, 56

percent oppose limits on the ability of public employees

to bargain over health care, and 51 percent oppose

eliminating seniority as the sole factor when

determining layoffs. And a majority of nonunion

households support repeal of SB 5, just as an do an

overwhelming percentage of union households.


Many voters will no doubt be swayed by the common sense

statement of conservative talk-show host Bill

Cunningham, who said that he is supporting the repeal

because "from my perspective, those affected by

governmental decisions need to have a place at the

bargaining table to determine the outcome of what's

being discussed."


At the Take Back the American Dream conference, a

session was devoted to building on the successes of the

Wisconsin push-back against Gov. Scott Walker's assault

on workers rights. The We Are Ohio movement has a hard

fight ahead, but it is taking good advantage of the

momentum that began in Wisconsin.



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