Ohio Republicans Backtrack on Labor Law
By John Gramlich, Staff Writer
The Dayton Daily News reports that Governor John Kasich, House Speaker William Batchelder and Senate President Tom Niehaus have reached out to labor unions " asking them to discuss a compromise " on the legislation. Batchelder even told the paper he would call members into a special session to repeal the entire law if need be.
"I hate what is about to happen here," Batchelder said. "There's going to be the damndest mess anybody ever saw in terms of relationships between government and employees."
The surprising turn of events follows a series of costly, bitter recall elections in Wisconsin, also set into motion by a Republican-led curtailing of collective bargaining rights and labor unions' efforts to oust the GOP lawmakers who voted for it. Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker himself is the target of a recall effort.
In Ohio, Republicans deny that their new offer of a compromise is being driven by the possibility of losing November's referendum on Senate Bill 5, as their collective bargaining law is known. Instead, Kasich and others have cast their offer as an opportunity to avoid the kind of bitter partisan politics that have roiled Wisconsin.
"We have a fleeting opportunity in Ohio to take the higher road," the Repubican leadership wrote in a recent letter to labor unions. "We are prepared to move forward immediately with legislative action to implement any agreement on changes we are able to reach together."
Early indications from labor leaders, however, suggest that they are willing to accept only one outcome to any compromise discussions that do take place. "Unless they come back and repeal the entire bill," a spokeswoman for a labor coalition told the Daily News , "there is no conversation."