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Ohio Dems could use right to work

Published: Sun, May 19, 2013 @ 12:00 a.m.

By Bertram de Souza (Contact)

Why can’t the Republican majority in the Ohio General Assembly just play nice and give minority Democrats a reason to hope in 2014?

All that the GOP in the General Assembly needs to do is pass a right-to-work law and you’ll see Democrats smile as broadly as they did in 2011 with the collective-bargaining reform act (Senate Bill 5).

But, with the Senate leadership adamant that the right-to-work issue is dead on arrival — legislation has been introduced in the House — Democrats are left to indulge in political wishful thinking.

Consider this fund-raising email from state Rep. Kevin Boyce, D- Columbus, the former state treasurer who lost a re-election bid in 2010:

“When was the last time you heard billionaires were willing to spend millions of dollars to give you and other workers more rights and more freedom on the job?

“That’s right. Never!

“You can’t trust this so-called right to work. It is wrong for the middle class and wrong for Ohio.

“Two Republican lawmakers recently introduced so-called right to work bills. Like Senate Bill 5, these proposals would destroy collective-bargaining rights and tilt the balance of power in favor of CEOs who put profits before people.

“This is not a drill. We need your help right now.

“You may have heard the bills were DOA in the Ohio General Assembly because Gov. John Kasich said so-called right to work is not on his agenda.

“We heard these same claims before in Indiana and in Michigan where both Republican governors said so-called right-to-work laws were not on their agendas right before they signed these anti-middle class laws almost overnight.”

But what Boyce and Democratic Party leaders in Ohio won’t acknowledge is that without Senate and House approval the bill will not get to Gov. Kasich’s desk. And, without the governor’s signature, it won’t become law.

Therefore, nothing is going to happen this year to undermine the Republican Party’s extremely good political fortunes going into the 2014 statewide election.

Ohio’s economy is recovering — Democratic strongholds like the Mahoning Valley are leading the way — the governor’s approval rating is rising, and several Democratic candidates for statewide office next year are virtual unknowns in Ohio. And then there’s Democratic President Barack Obama, who is having a difficult time getting any traction for his second term.

Indeed, with such major controversies as the Benghazi debacle that resulted in the deaths of four Americans, including the U.S. ambassador to Libya, the IRS’ targeting of conservative 501C(4) groups, and the Justice Department’s accessing of the telephone records of Associated Press reporters, the White House is forced to play defense.

The political shockwaves will be felt at the state level. The 2014 election in Ohio will be a referendum on the Republicans’ control of state government, and the Democrats’ control of the presidency and the Senate.

A right-to-work law would redefine the election, which is why Democrats are so eager for the Republicans to act.

But the GOP isn’t going to hand the opposition such a political hot potato.

The wounds of Senate Bill 5 (State Issue 2) are still raw. Gov. Kasich and the GOP believed that their 2010 sweep of the statewide election was an invitation to go after government workers.

After majority Republicans in the House and Senate rammed through legislation that took away many collective-bargaining rights, public-employee unions have enjoyed for more than two decades, public and private sector unions, along with the Ohio Democratic Party, decided to go for broke and put the issue up for a vote of the people.

With more than 1 million voters signing referendum petitions, it became clear that the Republicans had woken a sleeping giant.

They want that giant to hibernate next year.

Democrats don’t want to hear it, but right to work is dead on arrival.

They’re going to have to come up with some other lightning-rod issue to energize their base. Thus far, they haven’t had much success.

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