Issue 2 fails, voters decide against collective bargaining limits
Jay Warren, Jay.Warren@wcpo.com
9:20 PM, Nov 8, 2011
4:20 PM, Nov 9, 2011
A majority of Ohio voters voted "no" on Issue 2, thus repealing the controversial law designed to limit collective bargaining rights of unionized state, county and municipal employees.
Members of the group "We are Ohio" cheered at the Holy Grail bar when they heard the news.
Republican State Senator Bill Seitz who many believe lost his chair of the Senate Government Oversight Committee because he opposed Senate Bill 5 said, "We need to work together to strive for balance to strive and seek consensus and maybe that approach will bear more fruit."
The issue that divided Democrats and Republicans also divided Republicans. Members of Police and Fire unions who generally vote Republican on this issue sided with Democrats.
"We don't need to look for reasons to divide our party. We need to unite around a common agenda," Seitz said.
What was known as Senate Bill 5 would have allowed workers to only negotiate wages, not health insurance, pensions or in the case of firefighters, staffing levels.
It also would have barred public employees from striking.
Sponsored by State Sen. Shannon Jones (R), Dist. 7 SB5, as it became known, was signed into law by Gov. John Kasich on March, 31 2011.
Supporters believe the law would have given governments more latitude to keep their expenses down.
As SB5 was debated tens of thousands of opponents demonstrated in Columbus urging lawmakers to abandon their efforts. The nation's eyes turned to Ohio at that time after Wisconsin lawmakers passed similar legislation into law. Democrats left the state to deny Republicans a quorum in a last ditch effort to stop the process.
The "We Are Ohio" campaign, designed to bring SB5 to a statewide referendum, began with a large rally at the Statehouse Lawn on April, 9 2011.
Gov. Kasich offered to negotiate after the measure was certified but opponents rejected the offer as "too little, too late" and said meaningful discussions would come after a repeal of Issue 2.
"We Are Ohio" began to gather signatures around the state. Ultimately, 1.2 million people signed a petition to bring the issue to the ballot.
In the run-up to the election controversy over a political ad put forth by "Building a Better Ohio" caught the attention of the state and nation.
"Building a Better Ohio" comprised of Issue 2 supporters used the words of a Cincinnati grandmother, Marlene Quinn, taken from the internet to make the case for a "Yes" vote.
Quinn, however, was featured in a "No" ad and herself voted against the measure. Many TV stations in Ohio removed the ad because Quinn claimed her words were used without her permission. "Building a Better Ohio" claimed her statements were obtained in the public domain and cited Free Speech as justification for the use of the video.
Now the question remains will both sides meet to discuss collective bargaining rights going forward and if so, when.