Republican Ohio Gov. Bars 360,000 Ohio Workers from Bargaining and Striking -- How Will Democrats Fight Back?
Ohio Republican Gov. John Kasich has signed a bill that strips collective bargaining rights for more than 360,000 state workers and bars them from striking. Democrats have announced plans to collect some 230,000 signatures in the next 90 days to block immediate implementation of the law and put it to a public referendum on the November ballot. “This idea of government of the corporations, by the corporations and for the corporations has actually taken hold,” says our guest, Democratic Rep. Dennis Kucinich, who represents Ohio’s 10th District. “Unions are one of the last lines of defense against a corporate plutocracy.”
JUAN GONZALEZ: Congressman Kucinich, I want to ask you about the latest news from your state of Ohio. Last week, Republican Governor John Kasich signed a bill that strips collective bargaining rights for state employees and bars them from striking. And Democrats have announced plans to collect more than 230,000 signatures to block immediate implementation of the bill and place it on the November ballot. Your reaction to this action in your own state and also to this growing trend among Republican legislatures around the country to begin stripping and limiting the bargaining rights of public employees?
REP. DENNIS KUCINICH: Well, there’s two things that are happening here, at least. One is the attack on public employees. But the attack on public employees really presages an attack on the entire public sphere. So what’s happening here is it’s a destructive undermining of the principle of government of the people and that people have a right to have schools they can call their own, energy systems they can call their own, public services they can call their own. The attack on public servants opens the door to a broad-scale theft of the public domain. And so, this is about privatization, writ large. It’s about attempting to create circumstances where the physical assets of the state, that were purchased through people’s tax dollars over many generations, are about to be auctioned off, you know, often to a lower bidder, in order for the private sector to profit.
And the attack on workers here is fundamentally anti-American. In a democratic society, workers have to have a right to organize, a right to collective bargaining, a right to strike, a right to decent wages and benefits, a right to a secure retirement, a right to safe workplace. These are all things that should be guaranteed in a democratic society. And Governor Kasich has unfortunately joined the ranks of other Republican governors who are involved in this broad attack on workers’ rights, which is profoundly anti-democratic.
AMY GOODMAN: Well, what about this movement for putting it on the ballot, that would require hundreds of thousands of signatures? I mean, about quarter of a million, but they’d need much more, because they’d all have to be valid. And then the issue of Ohio, such an essential state when it comes to the presidential elections in 2012, 360,000 public workers affected. The Wisconsin protests were massive, but Ohio is so significant when it comes to the union movement. It has the nation’s sixth-largest number of public sector union members, which is twice as many as Wisconsin. How are you organizing around this?
REP. DENNIS KUCINICH: Well, I’ve been working with labor unions across the state. I’ve met with leaders of state labor. I’ve been with the workers outside the Statehouse. I’ve been rallying with them across Ohio. I understand that this is—that we are at the threshold of a whole new world here, where workers are either going to be restored to a position of dignity in our society, or they’re going to be reduced to a second-class citizenship.