Wisconsin remains the main battleground for the broader assault on worker’s rights. But elsewhere in the Big Ten states and across the country, these battles have moved forward. In Ohio, Gov. John Kasich is pushing pretty much the exact same bill as Scott Walker in Wisconsin. Known as SB 5, the bill would strip collective bargaining rights from Ohio public employees. SB 5 is a piece of legislation, so Kasich isn’t trying to implement this under the cover of a budget bill. However, he has said that if he doesn’t get what he wants out of SB 5, he will put those items into the next budget bill. Alternatively, this could go to the ballot. So SB 5 won’t be the last showdown. The Governor, aping Scott Walker, claims this is a fiscal issue, but nobody can explain how much money SB 5 would save.
Many Ohio Republican legislators are already looking askance at SB 5. With pressure rising from state editorial boards and organized labor, the State Senate may not have the votes to get this thing out of committee.
Yesterday, we wrote about the Columbus Dispatch’s story that indicated that there are seven Republican Senators on the fence on SB 7, enough that if they don’t support the bill could defeat it. Well, I failed to note another key aspect. If the GOP doesn’t get these members on board, they may not even be able to pass SB 5 out of committee.
The Republicans have an 8-4 majority on the Senate Insurance, Commerce, and Labor Committee. However, three of the Republicans on the Committee are Senators Bill Seitz, Bill Beagle, and Jim Hughes.
These just happen to be three of the seven Senators the Dispatch identified as saying that SB 5, as it currently stands, goes too far and they are on the fence over supporting.
There’s a large rally planned in Columbus for tomorrow at 1pm local time, and local rallies throughout the state. Enough Republicans are on the fence to derail the bill, if not in committee then in the full Senate.
Indiana has organized protests as well over House Bill 1468, which would basically turn it into a right-to-work state. It would prohibit employers from requiring employees to join the union or pay dues to work at their jobs. The construction industry would be exempt, which given the money involved with the industry and the connection to state jobs, doesn’t surprise. There’s a lot more about the right to work bill here.
The UFCW has been reporting from the protests, timed with a House hearing on the bill today. They have members on every floor of the Indiana Capitol building, occupying it in much the way that the Capitol in Madison has been occupied. Governor Mitch Daniels, who may be eyeing a Presidential run, has said publicly “he’d rather avoid a fight” on this bill rather than press the issue. But the labor movement in Indiana isn’t taking that for granted.
The movement is already spreading beyond Wisconsin.