Ohio's Labor Vote Tuesday May Give Clues To 2012 White House Race

Protesters against Senate Bill 5 gathered at the Ohio Statehouse in April. i i

hide captionProtesters against Senate Bill 5 gathered at the Ohio Statehouse in April.

Jay LaPrete/AP
Protesters against Senate Bill 5 gathered at the Ohio Statehouse in April.

Protesters against Senate Bill 5 gathered at the Ohio Statehouse in April.

Jay LaPrete/AP

Did Ohio Republicans go too far in passing a law that stripped public employees of their bargaining rights? Voters will decide through a referendum on the ballot Tuesday, the culmination of a high-pitched fight that could overturn Senate Bill 5, the controversial collective bargaining law signed by Gov. John Kasich this spring.

The measure, like Wisconsin and Indiana proposals, ends collective bargaining on health benefits for public employees, abolishes teacher tenure and automatic raises, and makes it nearly impossible for public workers to bargain on staffing or collect dues.

Popular anger led to a successful campaign to get the repeal measure — known as Issue 2 — on the November ballot.

The vote will test whether the governor's sweeping move to curb union power will withstand the backlash it inspired, and possibly alter the political landscape heading into next year's presidential election.

Political observers will be gauging what the outcome says about blue-collar anger at Republican policies in potentially crucial battleground state.

Unions could be headed toward a victory. The latest Quinnipiac poll shows 57 percent of Ohio's registered voters support repealing the new collective bargaining law.

It's been an expensive fight. The group opposing the sweeping collective bargaining limits, We Are Ohio, reports raising $19 million since July, and Building a Better Ohio, the business-backed pro-Issue 2 campaign, has raised $8 million.

For a closer look at what's happening on the ground in the Buckeye State, check out NPR's StateImpact Ohio.

Elise Hu is the digital editor of NPR's StateImpact effort, which focuses on government reporting in the states. Read more about it.

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