Tag Archives: Issue 2

Collective Bargaining versus Obamacare

By David Zanotti, CEO, The American Policy Roundtable

Partisans and pundits heralded the 2011 Ohio election as a “bell weather indicator” of the 2012 election to come. Ohio voters may have thrown the pundits a bit of a surprise. On Election night Ohio voters threw out Issue 2, a collective bargaining reform bill but at the same time issued a resounding rebuke to Obamacare.

Issue 2 was a referendum against a statute passed by the legislature. Big labor gathered and paid for the petition drive and the ballot campaign. The collective bargaining statute they were protesting was 300-pages long. Ohio voters have a long tradition of voting “No” on any measure that is not clearly presented and well understood. People did not know what was in the statute. Both sides amplified this voter confusion by spending millions on negative commercials. The issue was doomed from the start and the Republicans walked into this defeat with an amazing lack of clarity. In spite of all the above, 39% of voters supported the collective bargaining reforms in Issue 2. A clear 61% rejected Issue 2 and sent it resounding defeat.

Issue 3 was a constitutional amendment placed on the ballot by citizen petition. It was a referendum on Obamacare seeking to exempt Ohioans from mandatory nationalized health care. Granted this is a symbolic approach given that federal law trumps state laws and Ohio is not exactly a bastion of states rights advocacy. The fact the measure passed is remarkable in such a pro-union turnout model, especially since the pro-Issue 3 campaign had no money to spend. That Issue 3 passed with a higher majority (66% for) than the defeat of Issue 2 (61%) is even more substantive. In other words, there was a 5% greater animosity toward Obamacare in the Ohio electorate than the animus toward Governor Kasich’s collective bargaining reforms. In this off election year where union turnout dominated the day, Issue 3 passed in all 88 Ohio counties.

Said another way, 34% of Ohio voters favored Obamacare while 39% of Ohioans favored the collective bargaining reforms. Thus, the pro-union, anti-Kasich turnout on November 8, 2011 is even more distrusting of the current nationalized health care plan than collective bargaining reforms.

Governor Kasich and his allies got their clocks cleaned on Issue 2 on November 8th. If this election is an indicator of things to come, however, the 2012 election may actually become a referendum on Obamacare. Not even the pro-union crowd in Ohio seems to like that idea.

David Zanotti serves as CEO of The American Policy Roundtable an independent, non-profit, non-partisan education and research organization that has been active in Ohio public policy and ballot issues since 1980.

Why Vote Yes on Issue 2? Here Are Some Facts to Consider

Issue 2 is a referendum on the newly passed collective bargaining and other public employment contracts reform bill titled SB 5. The bill was passed in order to enable state government to reduce labor costs, balance the state budget, make public jobs more competitive and performance oriented, and attract as well maintain good workers.

One of the ways the governor, legislators, and many local officials agreed would enable them to accomplish these goals was reform the standards and practices of public workers.

Two organizations are leading grass root campaigns with regards to the passage of Issue 2. The union backed organization “We Are Ohio” lead the ballot referendum, wrote ballot argument opposing the SB 5, and produced most of the media ads seeking to persuade a no vote on November 8. “Building a Better Ohio” is the organization promoting the new law. “A Better Ohio” is behind the media ads, telephone calls, and literature campaign in favor of SB 5. It also has written the ballot argument for making it public law.

When in it comes to truth-in-advertising, “A Better Ohio” gets an “A” but “We Are Ohio” has earned an “F”. That is, statements and arguments made by “A Better Ohio” tend to be true while statement by “We Are Ohio” often have been shown to be false. The Plain Dealer’s PolitiFact Ohio is the source of these observations.

A number of other news, public policy think tanks, and other organizations have been focusing on this issue. They include Buckeye Institute (see links in right column above), Principled Policy Institute, Ohio Farm Bureau Federation, Dayton Chamber of Commerce, and others.

The ballot text voters will see presents two arguments. The “Vote No on Issue 2, Repeal SB 5” arguments make the following claims. SB 5 puts our families at risk by making it harder for fire and police to negotiate for needed safety equipment. Issue 2 also makes the nursing shortage worse by making it illegal for nurses, hospital and clinic workers to demand reasonable staffing levels. PolitiFact Ohio proves these arguments are clearly false. SB 5 specifically states safety employees DO have bargaining rights over equip and related issues (in section 4417.08 of the bill), and only about 10% of all nurse work for the state. What administrator is going to deny a real need for more nurses if a genuine health and safety issue can be proven? The state has monitoring mechanism to deal with such issues.

Another argument is that Columbus politicians exploited a loophole, giving a special exception to the same standards. As PolitiFact Ohio shows, politicians have always been exempt. The politicians already pay 15% into their healthcare and 10% to their pensions. And, they never can give themselves raises. Current politicians can only increase pay for future elected officials.

What is unfair about Issue 2 is the unions attempt to deceive voters into opposing the savings SB 5 will produce by making government more efficient.

A careful reading of the final argument against SB 5 is that Columbus politicians giving corporation tax-break incentives to moving businesses to Ohio, start new businesses, expand business operations, and keep them in Ohio is reason for Ohio economic problems. Union members should not be penalized for problems created by big business. Yet, politicians like Kasich are creating policies to curb corporate lobbyist influence peddling. Politicians like Kasich are not attempting to reduce pay but rather make public compensation, especially benefits, as fair as those creating profits that grow the economy. No public employee produces profits. As necessary as fire fighters, police, teachers, and support personnel are, public employee pay reduces available income or pay of all profit-makers, from the low-wage earner to the over-paid CEO.

Voting Yes on Issue 2 will NOT hurt us all. Ohio government made more efficient and public employee benefit package comparable the private-sector will not hurt us all either. It provides the necessary incentive for improving the quality of local education as well as all other sectors of government by making teaching and all other jobs based on results rather than mere tenure.

Yes on Issue 2 will provide more equality in union bargaining. Local communities and their representatives will be in a better position to handle economic down-turns when increasing taxes is reasonable. Taxpayers, in other words, will gain better legal standing regarding local government, schools, unions power, and taxation.