Saturday, August 20, 2011

Is the Ohio right-to-work debacle only old news?

MORE THAN a half century ago, the anti-union establishment in Ohio (do I have to name it?) decided it was time to end closed union shops by adding a right-to-work amendment to the state constitution. With an arrogant dismissal of organized labor's bread-and-butter proprietary claim to guard its membership rolls, the pro-right-to-work team propelled the issue to the November ballot.

The result was - or should have been - a defining moment in labor relations in Ohio. The proposed amendment was swamped by more than a million votes (63-37) in what was described by the Plain Dealer at the time as the widest margin of defeat that any ballot issue had ever suffered in Ohio.

The consequences were even more severe for leading Republican officeholders. Among the losers on the November ballot were the governor, Bill O'Neill, who actively supported the amendment; and presumed unbeatable conservative icon, Sen. John Bricker, who opposed it as political suicide. That, too, describes the late Ray Bliss, then-Ohio Republican chairman who saw it as a death warrant for the GOP ticket. (Such political wisdom is absent today in the governor's office as well as at the county level, where the party is managed by alleged Bliss disciple Alex Arshinkoff, a Kasich soldier to the core.)

The defeat of right-to-work was one of the GOP's darkest days in Ohio's political history.

That was 1958. I was a young reporter for the Columbus Citizen and as the results came in there were worried glances among the paper's top editors, and then shock over the overwhelming size of the issue's defeat. Within a day or so, Jack Keller, the managing editor, sent a memo to the city desk calling for greater coverage of the city's unions, from hard news to features. It was a damage-control concession that the paper had been less than attentive to the voice of labor. Other than occasional reports that union membership has shrunk, the media remain indifferent to the workaday world of a unionist on the national TV news panels and the local business pages. (Have I overlooked evidence to prove me in error?)

Well, here we are in 2011 and if the polls are wildly correct, Kasich & Co. - even with enormous resources ready to be tapped from anti-union treasuries from across the land (think, the Koch
brothers) - can expect to lose a rousing battle. The governor is counting on his two favorite newspapers, the Plain Dealer and Columbus Dispatch, to orchestrate the narrative in the coming months in which we will be frequently reminded that it's hurtful to the state to go forward with the Senate Bill 5 repeal campaign after the governor offered a compromise. Lost in the dire warnings is the simple truth that it was the Kasich union-busting culture that created the whole mess in the first place. Whatever else it might have been, it was bad politics. What could he and his legislative buddies have been thinking?

Really, folks - would a brash and self-centered cowboy like the governor be talking about a compromise if he expected the repeal to be a loser in November? It's possible, of course, that he never really expected the leaders of the public-union repeal to the public at large. Or so it might be argued. But, as expected, it's the repeal advocates who are now being accused of playing politics. Please.

A long time ago, a savvy Ray Bliss had it right and his warnings went unheeded. Is there nobody in the governor's office today who comes close to having it right?


JLM said...

I don't read The Dispatch but The Plain Dealer's Kasich stooge Kevin O'Brien is hard at work with column after column siding with Wall Street Johnny. By the look of the comments on his columns, it isn't working.

Grumpy Abe said...

Well, when you helped get him elected with editorial endorsements, you don't have much wiggle room on this issue.

PaulRyanFan84 said...

I would argue that Republicans weren't the only losers when the right to work ammendment was voted down. Sadly, the state Ohio as a whole was the biggest loser. One
only needs to look at the plight of the heavily unionized Midwest to understand this. Decade after decade of closed factories and rising unemployment across the region are all the proof you need (anyone been to Detroit lately?). At the same time, most of the economic growth and job creation in this country has come primarily in right to work states. Is it any wonder that the population of the US continues to shift to the south where most right to work states are located?

Thankfully we now have a governor trying to bring our state into the 21st century in regards to public sector unions. He understands that in order for Ohio to become competitive, public sector unions need to make concessions. It really is a matter of fairness to the hardworking taxpayers of Ohio.
If the unthinkable happens and SB5 is somehow overturned at the polls, we will have no one to blame for our economic condition but ourselves.

JLM said...

I'll still be blaming the folks who had a sizable hand in creating our current economic condition...

the GOP.

Mencken said...

The truth is, in transplant factories in this country, that is foreign car manufacturers making cars in the US, "total compensation for the average UAW worker would actually be less than total compensation for the average non-unionized worker at a transplant factory". This is according to an article in The New Republic.

The fact is PRF84, the UAW negotiated this contract taking into account tough worldwide market.

Now for your "been to Detroit lately" comment.
Here is a list of UNION AUTO FACTORIES in the Mid-West. Yes PRF84 ****UNION FACTORIES****.

Buick Lucerne built in Detroit
Chevy Volt built in Detroit
Cadillac CTS wagon Lansing, Michigan
Cadillac CTS Lansing, Michigan
Cadillac DTS Detroit
Cadillac STS Lansing, Michigan
Chevy Malibu Kansas City
Buick LaCrosse Kansas City
Chevy Cruze Lordstown
Chevy Corvette Bowling Green, Ky
Chevy Silverado Flint Mi, Fort Wayne In
Buick Enclave Lansing
Chevy Traverse Lansing
GMC Acadia Lansing
GMC Sierra Lansing
Dodge Avenger Sterling Heights Mi
Dodge Dakota Warren, Mi
Dodge Durango Detroit
Dodge Nitro Toledo
Jeep Compass Belvedere. ILL
Jeep Grand Cherokee Detroit
Jeep Liberty Toledo
Jeep Patriot Belevedere, ILL
Jeep Wrangler Toledo
RAM 150 Warren, Mi
Mazda 6 Flat Rock Mi.
Mitsubishi Eclipse Normal, ILL
& Galant All Normal ILL

JLM said...

I think I might change my name to..