Ohio Gov. John Kasich (R) on Wednesday offered a deal to the state’s public employee unions: Let’s compromise on my law stripping away your collective bargaining rights — and withdraw the referendum where you could get it repealed.
The Columbus Dispatch reports on Kasich’s press conference, at which he was also joined by top Republican legislative leaders:
Kasich said avoiding a fight is in “best interest of everyone, including public employee unions.” He asked the unions to “set aside political agendas and past offenses.”
The governor said the offer stems from him being a “believer in talking,” and not out of “a fear we are going to lose.” Kasich asked for a delegation of 10 public employee union leaders to talk with state officials.
The law has not actually taken effect, but was put on hold by the petition process that triggered the referendum for this November. A recent Quinnipiac poll from this past July showed that repealing the bill had a lead of either slightly under or over 20 points, depending on the wording of the question.
According to the Dispatch, the possible deal from Kasich’s side would include a modified binding arbitration system, the right to strike for non-public safety employees, and the likely restoration of “fair share” payments to unions by non-union employees that the law would have eliminated, among other issues that would be put on the table. A main fiscal austerity part of the bill, requiring increased contributions by public employees to their health care and pensions, would have to be agreed to in some form.
We Are Ohio, the lead organization behind the repeal referendum, put out a statement in response — saying no to a deal, and that Kasich and fellow Republicans should repeal the law in its entirety if they want to avoid the referendum. Key quote:
Today We Are Ohio once again stood firmly with the 1.3 million Ohioans who signed petitions to repeal SB 5 by telling the extreme politicians who passed it, to repeal it. Following a press conference held by Governor Kasich, Speaker Batchelder and Senate President Niehaus, We Are Ohio issued the following statement:
“We’re glad that Governor Kasich and the other politicians who passed SB 5 are finally admitting this is a flawed bill,” said Melissa Fazekas, spokeswoman for We Are Ohio. “Just like the bill was flawed this approach to a compromise is flawed as well. Our message is clear. These same politicians who passed this law could repeal it and not thwart the will of the people. They should either repeal the entire bill or support our efforts and encourage a no vote on Issue 2.”
Referendum organizers turned in nearly 1.3 million signatures this past spring, which was several times more than the relatively small required minimum.
Normally, triggering a repeal referendum required organizers to collect signatures equal to just six percent of the total votes in the last gubernatorial election, with additional requirements that they be sufficiently spread out with at least three percent of the gubernatorial vote across at least half the counties in the state. That meant the threshold was only 231,150 signatures — but organizers fired their opening political salvo by collecting far more than that, thus creating a greater base for the actual campaign.
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