In an election watched nationally, labor unions are celebrating one of their biggest victories in decades after turning back an Ohio law that curbed collective bargaining rights for the state's public workers. Issue 2 was defeated last night by a 61 to 39 percent margin.
The law signed in late March by Republican Gov. John Kasich would have banned public employee strikes, scrapped binding arbitration, and denied public workers the ability to negotiate pensions and health care benefits.
Kasich had said the law would help hold down taxes and make the state more appealing to business. The governor said in a speech that it was clear that the people had spoken.
"You have a campaign like this, you give it your best. If you don't win and the people speak in a loud voice, you pay attention to what they have to say and you think about it. So, people ask what will do if this doesn't fail? It's a chance for me to catch my breath and try to gather my thoughts together as to what we do next. As far as local governments go, we'll work with them to help them overcome their challenges, but let me be clear, there's no bailout coming. There is no bailout coming because frankly, there's no money. But what I will say is it's going to continue to be very important for local communities to figure out ways to deal with their cost challenges," says Kasich.
We Are Ohio, the largely union-funded opponent coalition, painted the issue as a threat to public safety and middle-class workers, spending millions of dollars on TV ads filled with images of firefighters, police officers, teachers and nurses.