Wednesday, February 23, 2011

6,000 Ohio Teachers, Policemen, Others Storm State Capital Hoping To Stop Senate Bill 5, Gov. Kasich, Union Busting, Obama In Cleveland That Day

Ohio's unions protest Senate Bill 5 in Columbus on Tuesday

Ohio Gov John Kasich
United States President Barack Obama

Ohio Congresswoman Marcia Fudge(D-11)

By Kathy Wray Coleman, Editor of the DeterminerWeekly.Com and the Kathy Wray Coleman Online News Blog.Com ( and

Nearly 6,000 teachers, policemen , firefighters, nurses, electricians, state workers and others stormed the Statehouse in Columbus, Oh. on Tuesday hoping to stop Senate Bill 5, a measure that would ultimately strip unions of negotiating rights and binding arbitration on all things but wages. If it passes the Republican controlled Senate and House of Representatives with the support of Ohio Republican Gov. John Kasich and becomes law, the bill would give management more leeway and more control on issues such as pensions, work hours, teacher tenure and the disciplining of public employees.

“This fight just started,” said Griot Y-Von, a community organizer that rode one of a dozen or so buses sponsored by the Ohio Democratic Party that left Cleveland for Columbus on Tuesday so that their voices could be heard. “This issue impacts every household in this state.”

U.S. Rep. Marcia Fudge (D-11) stopped by Democratic headquarters in downtown Cleveland to egg the protesters on, and while buses were leaving the majority Black major metropolitan city, headed for a standoff at the state's capital, President Barack Obama's motorcade was riding by, headed to a 10 am summit with small business owners and the president at Cleveland State University.

Though designed to begin with state employees and some government workers the intent of the bill, said Kasich, is to change the way America sees unions and to bust them down with Ohio's budget crisis as the pivotal mechanism for the radical change that is in the forefront in Wisconsin and in some other states. Some 68,000 protesters against that bill gathered at its capital of Madison last week with a small group of Tea Party members supporting the bill nearby.

Like Kasich in Ohio, the Wisconsin debate is being fueled by a Republican governor in Scott Walker, and both have something in common as in support from the Republican right, with leaders such as former Republican vice presidential candidate Sarah Pailin perpetuating the conflict.

“We have an $8 billion budget hole and we frankly want to give the managers and the schools the ability to control costs,” Kasich told a CNN reporter Monday evening, comments that led to the governor getting booed as he entered the atrium of the Statehouse on Tuesday to an array of protesters who also lined the building and streets outside with signs such as "kill the bill" and “the governor is a public employee too.”

Obama told reporters last week that the dispute brewing in Wisconsin, and now in Ohio, is “an assault on unions." He could not be reached to comment on the issue via his unrelated visit to Cleveland on Tuesday.

Ohio has joined the rapidly growing debate over collective bargaining, the cornerstone of America's unions and its labor movement. Tuesday was the fourth Senate committee meeting held on SB 5, which was introduced by State Sen. Shannon Jones (R-7), a Springsboro Republican. And if partisan politics continue to play a role in the controversy the Democrats have a fight on their hands as Republicans control the Ohio Senate 23-10 and the House 59-40.

And regardless of pressure from Democrats and union factions from across the state, Kasich remains in rare form, coming off of a fallout with Ohio's Legislative Black Caucus last month after naming an all White Cabinet of 22 people and then bucking to pressure and appointing Michael Colbert, who is Black, as the Director of the Ohio Department of Jobs and Family Services.

Though taking office just last month after ousting one-term Democratic Gov. Ted Strickland in Nov. in a Republican sweep of statewide offices, Ohio's new governor is ripe with aggression and he had no problem taunting Obama the evening before Tuesday's visit by the president to Cleveland.

“President Obama came to this state 12 times to beat me and he did not win,'” Kasich told CNN on Monday. “But he is the President of the United States and deserves respect.”