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WHBL Sheboygan (Wisconsin)

Ohio Voters Say 'No' to Wisconsin-Style Limits on Collective Bargaining

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Voters in Ohio have overwhelmingly rejected Wisconsin-style limits on collective bargaining for public employee unions. And the question now is whether it will give momentum to a union-backed effort to recall Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker. That remains to be seen. But Madison Assembly Democrat Mark Pocan called yesterday’s Ohio vote a sign that Walker and his fellow state Republicans are quote, “out of touch with the will of the people.” And Pocan, who’s running for Congress, said the G-O-P should quote, “close the deep wounds it created” by considering his bill to restore Wisconsin union privileges.

61-percent of Ohio voters favored the repeal of a law that Republican Governor John Kasich signed in March. Like the Wisconsin law, it banned public union bargaining for health care and pensions, and forced public workers to contribute more toward both. But unlike Wisconsin’s law, Ohio did not exempt police and fire personnel.

Nationally pundits are not certain whether the vote is simply a rejection of Republican overreach in a unionized state – or if will provide a national pro-union spark that could help President Obama and his fellow Democrats in next year’s elections. Harold Schaitberger, president of the International Association of Firefighters, said the Ohio vote was quote, “an absolute momentum-shifting victory for the labor movement.” And if unions and Democrats can pull off a Walker recall, Schaitberger said it would have quote, “a tremendous impact across the country.”

But there’s a question as to how much national union financial support would be given to a Walker recall, at a time when unions will be raising money to re-elect Obama next fall. In late August, A-F-L C-I-O president Richard Trumka said various labor leaders were still discussing whether the national union movement would support the Walker recall.

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