Political Animal


August 18, 2011 10:30 AM Kasich to Labor: Let’s make a deal

By Steve Benen

Ohio Gov. John Kasich (R) hasn’t been especially interested in working with those with whom he disagrees. Soon after getting elected, he declared, “If you’re not on the bus, we’ll run over you with the bus. And I’m not kidding.”

It was with this attitude that Kasich and his GOP allies used a heavy hand to pass a measure called SB5, which restricted the collective bargaining rights of Ohio’s public employees, affecting more than 350,000 teachers, police officers, state employees, and others. When labor and its Democratic allies balked, the governor just ran them over with the bus. When some Ohio Republicans sided with workers, they were punished, too. Kasich signed SB5 into law four months ago.

Unions and their allies promptly got to work collecting signatures, forcing a ballot referendum that will give voters a chance to repeal SB5 on their own in November (SB5 opponents needed about 230,000 signatures, but collected over 1.2 million). Polls show progressives likely to win.

All of a sudden, wouldn’t you know it, Kasich wants to talk.

Gov. John Kasich and top Republican lawmakers said Wednesday that they were offering to change a new law limiting collective bargaining in an attempt to keep a repeal effort off the November ballot. The administration released a letter asking for a meeting on Friday to discuss a compromise with 10 union leaders authorized to negotiate on behalf of We Are Ohio, the group pushing for a repeal of the law.

The letter reiterates supporters’ backing for the law and their confidence they can win in the fall, but it signals a desire to avoid a costly ballot battle. “A divisive fight on these issues that could possibly be avoided is in the best interest of everyone, including public employees and people who support public employees,” said the governor, above, a first-term Republican.

Kasich said the offer to revisit the law he recently signed has nothing to do with “a fear we are going to lose.”

The laughter was audible throughout Ohio. I mean, really. Why else would the governor suddenly discover a willingness to change a law he championed?

It’s almost amusing — Kasich wants to negotiate with state employees after gutting their collective bargaining rights, because he knows his constituents are likely to side with workers over him.

A progressive coalition, We Are Ohio, dismissed talk of a deal, but said Republicans can avoid the November referendum by repealing the anti-worker measure.

Steve Benen is a contributing writer to the Washington Monthly, joining the publication in August, 2008 as chief blogger for the Washington Monthly blog, Political Animal.


Post a comment
  • c u n d gulag on August 18, 2011 10:44 AM:

    Poor Governor Kasich, he forgot that buses have a 'reverse' gear, too, which is also good for running people over.


    We need to remind voters on a daily basis about what happens when Republicans get even a little power - they try to grab ALL of the power.

    And a lot of power automatically goes to their heads, and that they then 'try to ram stuff down peoples throats.'

  • SteveT on August 18, 2011 10:45 AM:

    Republicans can avoid the November referendum by repealing the anti-worker measure.

    And they'd better get to it. Having the repeal referendum on the ballot in November would lead to a near Democratic sweep in whatever offices are up for election. Ohio Democrats, who are presumably smarter than national-level Democrats (that's not a very high standard), will hold out for complete repeal.

    I suspect that Kasich's sudden about-face is because he doesn't want his allies to be run over by that bus.

  • Josef K on August 18, 2011 10:51 AM:

    Kasich was among the Republicans pushing for a Balanced Budget Amendment back in '95 or so, right? Moaned and groaned about how the country would regret Congress refusing the measure and all?

    Clearly, age hasn't brought wisdom.

  • RepublicanPointOfView on August 18, 2011 11:05 AM:

    Governor Kasich's position seems emminently reasonable to me!

    All that he is asking is that the repeal vote not take place. In exchange, he will consider modifying the law which we republicans love so much and that you unAmerican, socialist, anti-business democrats hate so much.

    If the good citizens of Ohio could get Obama to negotiate for the democrat party and their labor union bosses, all would end well. Obama would agree to stop the repeal vote. Then Governor Kasich could announce that he has reconsidered the bill and that all of you labor loving asshats can go f*ck yourself! After all, Governor Kasich did not agree to changing a damn thing, just reconsidering it; therefore, he would be consistent in telling the truth.

  • Jeff In Ohio on August 18, 2011 11:05 AM:

    Dear Gov. Kasich,
    Go fuck yourself.
    Jeff In Ohio

  • aimai on August 18, 2011 11:08 AM:

    The teachers and everyone else should ask Kasich who he is negotiating with? He's essentially dissolved them as a bargaining unit. He needs to go separately to each and every voter and ask them personally to support him and his law. Or he can go fuck himself. In a sane world governments and corporations know that dealing with a collectivity is much easier than dealing with a bunch of individuals each with their own demands. Perhaps its time that Kasich remembered that.


  • rrk1 on August 18, 2011 11:18 AM:

    Trusting any Rethug is always a mistake. All Kasich wants to do is suppress the Democratic/opposition vote in November. He has no intention of changing anything after 'consideration.'

    Hopefully the Ohio Democrats have more balls than our president, and work like hell for a big turnout to kill the anti-union power grab. Ohio has lost too many jobs and industries, and hopefully its public and private workforce still knows it's better off with collective bargaining than with the arbitrary caprices of lunatic Rethugs.

  • NonyNony on August 18, 2011 11:30 AM:

    Understand what's going on here - Kasich isn't actually interested in compromise. Kasich is interested in making this into a Democrats vs. Republicans narrative. If he can make this a partisan thing, rather than a "politicians vs. workers" thing, then things are better for him. If he can lie to people and say "I wanted to compromise but those mean old Democrats and labor unions don't want compromise" then things are better for him.

    That's what this is - the message got away from him and his handlers because they thought people in Ohio hated labor unions. They don't. But there are plenty of working class Republicans in Ohio and if Kasich can convince them that this is really about Republicans vs. Democrats then he might have a shot at prevailing in November. He's got three months to try to shift that narrative into his favor, and you can bet your ass that his servants and fan club at the Columbus Dispatch are going to be sweating their asses off to help their heartthrob King John do just that for the next three months.

  • Texas Aggie on August 18, 2011 12:03 PM:

    Republicans can avoid the November referendum by repealing the anti-worker measure.

    Cover story in Duh! Magazine

  • paul on August 18, 2011 12:04 PM:

    Here's a compromise: He offers a public apology to the people of ohio, introduces a bill to repeal the law, and resigns.

  • jjm on August 18, 2011 12:15 PM:

    Do not trust this man. He's a born bully, with a nasty temper.

    He's terrified of a November ballot.

    Let him shiver in his bed from now till then.

  • dj spellchecka on August 18, 2011 12:51 PM:

    kasish has a simple plan....loot ohio for his rich friends as fast as he can and then go back to the private sector...

    sb5 should be framed in this reality

    rusty in ohio

  • Ohioan on August 18, 2011 12:55 PM:

    As a long-time commenter here, I would simply echo "Jeff in Ohio" at 11:05 AM.

    Kasich is faking compromise - he is on to the next exploit, privatizing the Ohio Turnpike, probably so some crony can cash in by making it like Indiana's (poor maintenance, higher tolls, terrible service plazas).


    It's hilarious to watch the braindead editorial board of the Cleveland Plain Dealer who endorsed Kasich last year go "wow, better watch this guy - he's a little nutty".

  • SPaxton on August 18, 2011 1:07 PM:

    The main reason I suspect Kasich now wants to "Make a deal!" is to cut down liberal attendence at the polls in November so his cherished anti-"Obamacare" referendum has a chance of passing.

  • Steve High on August 18, 2011 1:34 PM:

    I think two Republican heads on pikes in Wisconsin may cause GOP governors and legislators to think twice or even three times before trying to strong-arm labor and its friends.

  • Kathryn on August 18, 2011 2:53 PM:

    John Kasich may be the most buffoonish and arrogant of the recent crop of Republican governors though the field is loaded with such types admittedly, Christie, Walker, Scott, what a rogue's gallery. No one with a functioning brain cell (1) would agree to talk with him now that's he's on the ropes. Who can forget the vision of him speaking to state employees (I think) and railing about a policeman who stopped him regarding a traffic infraction, screaming at the top of his lungs about the cop being an idiot. Only a severely insensitive individual could conceive of that being a good idea that would be well received. To say that he can't be trusted in quite an understatement.

  • JEA on August 18, 2011 3:35 PM:

    If I were a union member in Ohio, my answer to Kasich would be "you can stand right over here in front of MY bus."

  • Krowe in Ohio on August 18, 2011 6:27 PM:

    What Jeff and the other Ohioan said.

  • ComradeAnon on August 18, 2011 7:47 PM:

    Run his sorry ass over with his own damn bus.