|SMACKDOWN! SB 5 goes down in flames|
|SMACKDOWN! SB 5 goes down in flames|
|Written by Cynthia Brown|
If you work for Koch Industries or any of their tentacle organizations like Americans for Prosperity, the Cato Institute or the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC), yesterday was as big a defeat as the 2010 Congressional elections were a victory. The good people of the Great State of Ohio, in a stunning rebuke to the anti-middle class agenda of Governor John Kasich, overwhelmingly repealed legislation designed to kill public sector unions by a roughly three-to-one margin.
While there were many significant votes across the country yesterday, none are more important than the defeat of SB-5, also known as Issue 2. The victory for middle class teachers, cops, firefighters and other public sector employees is seen by many as an indication that similar legislation in states like Michigan, Florida, New Jersey and most notably Wisconsin are likely to be challenged by voters.
Also likely to be challenged are the state officials that have enacted union-busting legislation- most notably Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker.
* SB-5 would have abolished the collective bargaining rights of employees of the state, of any agency, authority, commission, or board of the state, and of any state institution of higher education.
*It would have prohibited the state, agencies, authorities, commissions, and boards of the state, and a state institution of higher education from collectively bargaining with its employees.
*The legislation also would have abolished the Office of Collective Bargaining.
Kasich saw the writing on the wall months ago when poling indicated that voters were likely to vote his plan down and made desperate pleas for the people who's right to bargain for wages and benefits he was trying to eliminate to negotiate with the governor.
And perhaps if the legislation had been more restrained, focusing on pension reform rather than throwing the baby out with the bath water and just outlawing unions, labor leaders might have taken mercy on Kasich and started good faith negotiations.
But as the saying goes, you mess with the bull- you get the horns. Labor leaders from all walks of life refused to give Kasich an "out," by affording him the courtesy and respect he denied them when he passed SB-5 without negotiations.
Kasich, who famously once called a police officer an idiot for giving him a ticket, is now manning the damage control pumps.
Another way of expressing that sentiment might be, "I tried to sneak one past my constituents on behalf of corporate interests and my financial backers but I got my butt kicked. Please don't kick me out of office."
Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker, another union buster, is so worried about the increasingly likely possibility of being recalled that Walker's own supporters filed the first recall petition. Why? Because under the law once a recall petition is filed the target can raise unlimited cash to fight off the challenge.
Like Kasich, Walker has connections with the billionaire oil men the Koch Brothers that could be tapped to throw millions at undermining efforts of state voters to replace their own governor.
But that's what's so significant about the Ohio vote yesterday. It's a lesson in the timeless strategy of strength in numbers. If Americans for Prosperity had just SB-5 to worry about, they very well may have been able to outspend organized labor in the SB5 campaigns.
But the Koch Brothers want an SB5 and even more drastic legislation enacted in every state in the country. As a result they have to spend their political money accordingly and spread it evenly through their PACs and think tanks. That means that organized labor can outspend, out-lobby and out-campaign groups like the Chamber of Commerce and the American Legislative Exchange Council at the state level if there's enough popular support.
At the federal level things are more complicated. Americans for Prosperity, funded by the Kochs, says it plans to spend in excess of $200 million on the 2012 election.
Pundits and observers disagree about whether the vote in Ohio represents a shift away from the trend of conservative dominance in public policy and state legislation seen in recent years.
But what's becoming crystal clear is that the vast majority of Americans, at least in Ohio, didn't fall for the lie being sold by powerful corporate interests.
The lie is that public sector workers' wages and benefits are hurting the economy while things like "permanent war footing," the deregulation of the financial sector and the fact that many billion dollar multi-national American corporations pay no federal income taxes are not.
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