By Bertram de Souza (Contact)
Published August 20, 2011
The reason there’s a Senate Bill 5 is that Democrats stayed home last November, thus giving the Republicans a sweep of the statewide election in Ohio. With the governor’s office and the General Assembly firmly in GOP hands, the move to restrict public employees’ collective bargaining rights was inevitable.
The passage of Senate Bill 5, which Gov. John Kasich signed into law without hesitation, awoke the Democrats, especially members of the unions, from their political slumber. They have rallied to stop the law from taking effect by putting it up for a statewide vote in this November general election.
But the question that remains unanswered is this: Will the Democrats show up for the election, or will they sit on their hands as they did last year, resulting in Democratic Gov. Ted Strickland being a one-termer. While there is a great deal of optimism that SB 5 will be rejected by Ohioans, given the more than 1 million voters who signed the referendum petitions, Kasich, the Republicans in the Legislature and out-of-state interests that have targeted public employees nationally are pulling out all the stops to keep SB 5 intact.
The attempt this week by the governor and leaders of the House and Senate to work out a compromise failed when heads of the unions refused to attend a meeting. They want the new collective bargaining law repealed before they sit down with the Republicans.
A repeal of the law will be a major victory for the Democrats. If the GOP gives in to the unions’ demand, it will mean that Kasich et al truly believe the polls that show Ohioans opposed to SB 5 by a large margin.
The political chess game is getting interesting.