Ohio Locals Aim to Defeat
Anti-Labor Gov. Kasich
August 6, 2014
|Working-family advocate Ed FitzGerald is looking to unseat Ohio Gov. John Kasich, who led a high-profile fight against collective bargaining in the Buckeye State two years ago.
Photo used under a Creative Commons license from Flickr userJason Perlman.
Two years ago, IBEW locals in Ohio played a critical role in winning a ballot initiative to defeat legislation supported by Republican Gov. John Kasich which would have taken away the right of firefighters, teachers and other public workers to collectively bargain.
IBEW members and otherscollected 1.3 million signatures on petitions to repeal the legislation. They won the referendum, gaining national attention.
As Kasich campaigns for re-election, union members are mobilizing to win another victory for working families by supporting his opponent, Ed FitzGerald.
A former FBI agent, prosecutor, mayor and Cuyahoga County executive, FitzGerald has a strong record of competent, ethical leadership and working with, not against, organized labor.
“Kasich has attacked workers in the public and private sector,” says Hamilton Local 648 Business Manager Jeff McGuffey. “We’re going to educate our membership to how he has hurt our jobs.”
The governor, says McGuffey, changed bidding procedures on public projects from multiple prime bidding to single prime bidding, which makes it harder for individual signatory contractors to compete. In the last three years, Local 648 has lost 50,000 man-hours of work at Miami University that would likely have been won by union contractors under the prior system.
Local 648 will conduct traditional phone banking and mailings. But McGuffey expects to repeat prior successful campaigns by visiting members in their homes to encourage them to vote in November.
“When you knock on a fellow member’s door, you can make a difference,” says McGuffey. Personal discussion with co-workers is far more persuasive than “political rhetoric” on TV, he says.
“The building trades have lost ground on prevailing wages under Kasich,” says Cleveland Local 38 Business Manager Dennis Meaney. Kasich raised thresholds for application of prevailing wage regulations despite lobbying efforts by the trades to limit the increases.
Local 38 members are doing precinct walks and literature drops for Fitzgerald, says Meaney, who says he’s inspired by poll numbers that show the race close.
“We’ve given the AFL-CIO space in our local hall to phone bank for FitzGerald,” says Dayton Local 82 Assistant Business Manager John Mueller. The federation used the hall previously to help defeat the collective bargaining bill. The local is planning mailings in support of FitzGerald and a mobilization for a Labor Day parade in a neighboring town.
While Kasich backed off on his efforts to undermine collective bargaining after his referendum defeat, Mueller is concerned that, with a Republican majority in both houses of the state legislature, a Kasich victory in November could bring back similar efforts, including the passage of a right-to-work law in the state.