The Bell Tolls for AFSCME

Since I last wrote about Ohio’s collective bargaining law for public employees, Governor-elect Kasich has hardly softened his stance on public unions:

“If they want to strike they should be fired,” Kasich said last week. “I really don’t favor the right to strike by any public employee. They’ve got good jobs, they’ve got high pay, they get good benefits, a great retirement. What are they striking for?”

Stories of Kasich’s resolve abound, from the Dayton Daily News to The Toledo Blade to The New York Times. Lest readers assume John’s wandered off the reservation, Speaker Batchelder offers little reassurance to union enthusiasts:

Ohio House Speaker-elect William G. Batchelder, a Medina Republican who voted against the 1983 law, said he opposes the right of public-sector employees to strike.

”It’s difficult to make a case for the existing system,” Batchelder said. ”It’s difficult to argue that the government’s coercive power to tax ought to pay for a service that isn’t being rendered.”

Predictably, the American Federation of Government Employees, AFL-CIO, AFSCME, and every Progressive group under the sun have leapt to the defense of ORC 4117, a bad idea that’s as old as me. Their bleating is familiar: Republicans hate working Americans; unions protect helpless grunts toiling in the mines; unions aren’t to blame for out-of-control spending.

These were weak excuses back when President Obama was bailing out the UAW, and they’re completely pathetic when applied to government unions. One look at The Grand Bargain is Dead, The Buckeye Institute‘s report on public employee compensation, and the pro-union position disintegrates.

What do the AFL-CIO goons, Progressive policy advocates, and Democratic Party reps all have in common? Their position is indistinguishable from the Socialists’. Yes, that’s Socialist with a capital S:

The 23 labor and movement activists from cities throughout Ohio created the Buckeye Socialist Network (there will soon be a website). The Network’s first campaign is called DEFEND OHIO and will focus on defending public employees’ jobs and public services.

“Governor Kasich has unleashed a class war in Ohio,” said Dan La Botz. “And we intend to fight back. Kasich’s inauguration is the ideal occasion for Ohio’s working people to protest at the Capital in Columbus and to show the governor that he is going to face four years of fierce resistance by unions and social movements.

Ohio is $8 – $10 billion in the hole, but leftists from here to the moon will defend government bloat to the last. The Buckeye state could continue its slide in the direction of California, Illinois, Michigan, and New York – adding bureaucracy and driving out business until we go bankrupt – and the sort of people who were just steamrolled on November 2 would scream that “tax cuts for the wealthy” were to blame.

Crippling the ability of public unions to hold Ohio taxpayers hostage will not solve Ohio’s budget crisis – and, though you wouldn’t know it from listening to his detractors, Governor-elect Kasich has been clear about that. Nonetheless, it’s an important step to fiscal sanity. Faster, please… there’s plenty more to do.

I won’t pretend it took much convincing, but I’m with Matt Mayer of The Buckeye Institute: ORC 4117 should be repealed. Updates and revisions to Ohio’s civil service law – which itself occupies hundreds of pages – would ensure that all types of public worker are fairly treated and reasonably compensated. Just don’t expect the leeches who make themselves rich on member dues, or the interest groups they fund, to tell you anything resembling that simple truth.

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