The Cost of Voting No on 2

Opponents of the reforms in Issue 2 blame busted local budgets on the way Governor Kasich handled the $8 billion deficit Ted Strickland left behind. In effect, government union bosses who thrive on a broken status quo insist the problem is too little spending. Like all leftists who decry spending cuts, union bosses want to raise our taxes.

For proof, consider Ohio school districts’ five-year forecasts from October 2010. Based on papered-over Strickland state figures – before Governor Kasich was even elected – districts projected major shortfalls by 2015. If we vote down Issue 2, how will local leaders cover these deficits? Layoffs, higher taxes, program cuts… choose any combination of the three.

Without Senate Bill 5, every resident of these Ohio school districts would have to pay between $1200 and $1500 in 2015 to cover the deficits forecast last fall:

Lakewood Local School District $1,498
Princeton City School District $1,383
Upper Scioto Valley Local School District $1,376
Hudson City School District $1,368
Avon Lake City School District $1,345
St. Marys City School District $1,333
Osnaburg Local School District $1,314
Maple Heights City School District $1,293
Berlin-Milan Local School District $1,292
Nordonia Hills City School District $1,283
Russia Local School District $1,276
Huber Heights City School District $1,273
Northmont City School District $1,273
Valley View Local School District $1,266
Bradford Exempted Village School District $1,262
Southwest Licking Local School District $1,260
Benton-Carroll-Salem Local School District $1,251
Oakwood City School District $1,249
North Olmsted City School District $1,242
Medina City School District $1,240
Beachwood City School District $1,213

In 2010, more than 450 Ohio school districts forecast deficits amounting to more than $100 per resident by 2015. These 21 districts aren’t even the worst examples!

Unfortunately for Ohio union bosses, heated rhetoric won’t melt mathematical reality. With your Yes vote on Issue 2, you can make it easier for school districts throughout state to address deficits without raising taxes, reducing services, or firing teachers.

Get the facts behind the anti-reform smear campaign, check out county-by-county school district forecasts, and then vote Yes on Issue 2!

Yes on Issue 2 for Teachers, No for Unions (Part 1)

In the fight against government union reform in Ohio, the Ohio Education Association (OEA) is the largest donor by a landslide. Ohio’s NEA affiliate charged every member $54 to help kill Senate Bill 5, and they’ve dumped $5.8 million into a $30.5 million campaign whose message is equal parts simple and dishonest:

Vote NO on Issue 2 on November 8th to help repeal Senate Bill 5, the unfair attack on employee rights and worker safety in Ohio.

The unions are too busy beating this drum to offer any evidence reform is an attack on workers that makes them less safe; the only reason to vote against Issue 2 is because the unions demand it. Since OEA has given more to the anti-reform effort than anyone, let’s see if OEA deserves Ohio’s trust!

Government unions have a straightforward business model: using money from members’ paychecks, lobby for endless tax increases and convince workers that only the union cares. From a taxpayer’s perspective this is bad enough – but OEA takes it one step further. The union pays itself big bucks to demonize Ohio’s elected officials and job creators:

Larry Wicks,
Executive Director
Patricia Frost-Brooks,
Doug Crawford,
Labor Relations Consultant
Cecilia Weldon,
Labor Relations Consultant
Bill Leibensperger,
Vice President
James Martin,
Assistant Executive Director, Business Services
Kevin Flanagan,
Assistant Executive Director, Member Services – Field
Michael McEachern,
Labor Relations Consultant
Susan Babcock,
Assistant Executive Director, Strategic/Workforce
Rachelle Johnson,
Assistant Executive Director, Member Services-Programming
Mark Linder,
Labor Relations Consultant
Venita Shoulders,
Labor Relations Consultant
William Otten,
Labor Relations Consultant
Patricia Collins,
Director, Region 1
Fritz Fekete,
Director I/S & Research
Mary Suchy,
Director of Membership
Randall Flora,
Director, EI&I
Rodney Bird,
Labor Relations Consultant
Jeffrey Kestner,
Labor Relations Consultant

These are just the OEA staff & officers paid more than $150,000. In 2010, more than 100 OEA employees were paid six figures! Strange that folks who make a living defending poor, unappreciated educators do so by shaking them down for triple the average Ohio teacher’s salary.

What do you think – can voters be forgiven for concluding the teachers’ union is more concerned with the union than with the teachers? Vote Yes on Issue 2!

They Aren’t Ohio: $30 million to Kill Union Reform

Union bosses in Ohio and Washington, D.C. are – oddly enough! – opposed to the sensible government union reforms in Senate Bill 5. Exactly how opposed? Combine yesterday’s cash and in-kind numbers from the Ohio Secretary of State with the figures from July, and you’ll see that unions have sunk more than $28 million into the campaign against Issue 2.

Out of $30.5 million dollars given to We Are Ohio since the union front group was created this spring, the overwhelming majority is directly from union bosses standing to lose a little power to Ohio taxpayers when Issue 2 passes. It’s been expensive convincing Ohioans that government union reform will destroy the middle class and return Ohio to the days of Jim Crow laws. Who has contributed the most to “We Are Ohio’s” dishonest smear campaign?

  • Ohio Education Association (state NEA affiliate): $5.87 million
  • AFSCME (D.C.) $3 million
  • National Labor Table (D.C.): $3 million
  • National Education Association  (D.C.): $2 million
  • AFSCME Local 11: $1.94 million
  • Communications Workers of America (D.C.): $1.5 million
  • AFL-CIO (D.C.): $1.5 million
  • AFSCME Local 4: $1.46 million
  • Ohio Federation of Teachers (state AFT affiliate): $1.26 million
  • SEIU 1199 (New York): $1 million
  • SEIU 1199 (Ohio): $1 million

It’s also worth noting that more than $100,000 of the non-individual Ohio contributions are from the Ohio Democratic Party, and nearly every individual donor who lists a profession is a union rep. This could prove donors’ selfless dedication to the happiness of Ohio government employees (taxpayers and cruel “mathematics” aside)… but that isn’t what my past few months of Ohio Education Association research would suggest!

Get the facts about Ohio Issue 2, spread the truth before November 8th, and watch this space for more…

Cross-posted at Third Base Politics, RedState, and BigGovernment.

We Are Ohio’s “Facts”

We Are Ohio insists Issue 2 – in addition to being unnecessary – is “unsafe, unfair, and hurts us all.” I’ve thoroughly covered the hypocrisy of a D.C. union front pretending to have Ohioans’ interests at heart… is there anything trustworthy about the group’s talking points?

Unlike their other arguments, We Are Ohio’s complaint that Senate Bill 5 is unnecessary cites academic research. Amid the other fabrications on We Are Ohio’s “The TRUTH about Issue 2” page, you’ll find this:

MYTH: Public employees are overpaid, and their salaries need to be brought in line with the private sector.
TRUTH: A recent Rutgers University study found Ohio public employees earn 6 percent less on a yearly basis than their peers in the private sector. They earn 3.5% less on an hourly basis.

Contrary to the Rutgers study, two researchers at the American Enterprise Institute reported that Ohio government workers receive an average premium of 43% more than private industry employees when factors including job security are considered. But this is much more than a case of dueling think-tanks.

As reported at Third Base Politics and GOHP Blog, info about Rutgers professor and study author Jeffrey Keefe released yesterday at Big Journalism brings We Are Ohio’s only “factual” support into question.

Yet during the phone call, Keefe had emphasized how it is “important to do business with policy institutes rather than academics,” laughingly noting that “[a]cademics believe in publish or perish … no matter what the outcome is.” He reassured us that “Policy institutes have an policy agenda … The thing about EPI is when they publish something, it’s highly reliable and credible, but if it’s contrary to what you want, and what they want, they just, they pay for it, and they kill it.”

Out of all the researchers at all the universities in the country, why did We Are Ohio go to Jeffrey Keefe? Because he, like the Economic Policy Institute, has an agenda, and he’s not afraid to “kill” research that won’t support it. If you didn’t know EPI is a far-left advocacy group, you can thank Ohio media outlets for that. From a glowing piece about EPI in a 2007 issue of lefty rag The Nation:

For many years, the Economic Policy Institute has filled a lonely role in Washington politics–the premier left-liberal think tank standing up to the dominant conservative orthodoxy.

With the source of the unions’ only tangible evidence exposed as an unprincipled partisan whose publisher is a recognized left-wing organization, what have the union bosses behind We Are Ohio got going for them? Refer to the campaign’s continuous stream of lies and hyperbole, and there’s your answer. Vote Yes on Issue 2!

 Cross-posted at Third Base Politics and RedState.

OEA Member Attacks Workers!

OEA employees on strike, summer 2010. Written on the middle striker's sign: "Because OEA sucks!"

The fight over Senate Bill 5 isn’t the first time government unions have leaned on emotion and hyperbole to get their way. Sometimes the tactic is turned against the Ohio Education Association (OEA) itself… by the union’s employees!

In a fun case of unionized union staff trumping the Solidarity FistTM powers of union bosses, OEA employees highlighted quotes from Ohio teachers despairing over an expiring union contract. This is one example from an August 28, 2009 post on an official OEA staff blog:

Here in Springboro, my members would be agast [sic] to learn that their union, the OEA, is not willing to bargain with its own union workers in a manner that reflects the willingness to practice-what-it preaches.

Whoa there, Springboro teacher – suggesting that OEA bosses don’t meet their own standards is no good! This is the sort of criticism that results in Issue 2 supporters being slandered for months on end.

Are OEA bosses worse managers than the elected officials they demonize, or is this sort of rhetoric just business as usual for government unions? Either way, taxpayers have no reason to believe We Are Ohio’s biggest in-state donor when it comes to the reforms in Issue 2.

On November 8, help rein in the union bosses who promise the moon from taxpayer funds but suddenly clam up when it comes to their own: Vote Yes on Issue 2!

OEA Employee: “OEA’s attitude is about power”

OEA Employees on Strike, Summer 2010

If We Are Ohio’s rhetoric is any indication, unions don’t care for elected officials who stand in their way. The Ohio Education Association (OEA) is the state’s largest public union, so their employees seem like the folks to confirm this! From an August 29, 2009 post on an official OEA staff blog:

Some negotiations are settled peacefully and uneventfully by enlightened boards of education who value their employees.

Of course, OEA defines “enlightened boards of education” as the ones who give OEA whatever it demands.

And then there are those boards of education whose modus operandi is to constantly be power-hungry, contentious, self-serving and extremely short sighted.

Am I the only one who thinks “self-serving” is an odd way to describe public officials who look out for the public?

Still, OEA staff are probably just mimicking the combative tone passed down from union bosses

OEA talks a good game with its members — giving the impression that true collective bargaining is moving merrily along and that true progress is being made at the negotiations table. But actions speak louder than words, and the truth is that the OEA is acting every bit as bad as the worst boards of education across the state for whom its own members work. And the saddest part of all is that OEA’s attitude is about power — not about progress, fairness, the financial future of the organization, or any other factor upon which OEA’s conduct should be based.

Like so many quotes from OEA staff, “OEA is acting every bit as bad as the worst boards of education” is a criticism we can process one of two ways:

  1. Unions will be unions – to get their hands on more dues cash, OEA staff say things they don’t mean.
  2. OEA bosses demonize public officials while behaving the same way, if not worse.

Are OEA bosses hypocrites who mistreat their employees, or are OEA employees hypocrites who squeeze big bucks out of the teachers they claim to speak for? Whatever your political bent, you should be skeptical when the people benefiting from a broken status quo insist reform would be the worst.

Get the facts about the reasonable government union reforms in Senate Bill 5, and vote Yes on Issue 2!

Media Memo: D.C. Unions Spending to Kill Issue 2

Earlier this month, The Columbus Dispatch reported that a Virginia-based conservative group was sending out Yes on 2 mailers:

A secretly funded Republican-friendly group based in Virginia has started spending money in Ohio to urge voters to uphold Senate Bill 5, the new law that would significantly weaken collective bargaining power for public workers.

The story was titled – simply and accurately – “Outside group spending money to save Senate Bill 5.” Several days later, the Dispatch mentioned the mailers again in a story about pro- and anti-Issue 2 spending:

Alliance for America’s Future, a GOP-linked group based in Virginia, is funding a pro-Issue 2 mailing campaign to Ohio voters, according to news reports. The organization is run by Barry Bennett, a former top aide to U.S. Rep. Jean Schmidt, R-Loveland. Disclosure of its spending on Issue 2 is not required, Redfern said.

Absent from the Dispatch story on We Are Ohio’s 5-to-2 spending advantage for TV ads is any explanation of how We Are Ohio can afford to cram commercial breaks with rhetoric debunked as “Mostly False” by PolitiFact.

Even if We Are Ohio’s overall funding isn’t worth mention, this ought to be:

Check out the return address from the mailer’s reverse side:

Is out-of-state campaign spending the end of democracy as we know it? Of course not… but if it’s news that a “secretly funded Republican-friendly group” is sending mailers from Virginia, it’s absolutely news that a leftist group is sending mailers from D.C. View the full size scan, and you can make out the name of Communities for Quality Education’s treasurer, Robert Bonazzi:

Robert A. Bonazzi was for 16 years Executive Director of the 200,000 member New Jersey Education Association, leading a staff of 350. He held key positions with the NEA and the Massachusetts Teachers Association.

So we’ve got a former New Jersey / D.C. / Massachusetts union boss telling Ohio taxpayers to block government union reform. Newsworthy? History suggests I’m not the best judge…

We Are Ohio isn’t a pro-union Ohio group getting a boost from outside the state: We Are Ohio is a front group for D.C. unions, regardless of how many National Education Association bigwigs send mailers from beyond Ohio’s borders. Note the humorous typo at PolitiFact, listing “We Are Ohio” as “None From Ohio” – it’s nearer the truth than the unions would have you believe.

Don’t be afraid to question the dishonest hysterics of Ohio and D.C. union bosses – even if they smear you as a racist. Get the facts about the sensible government union reforms in Senate Bill 5, and this November 8 vote Yes on Issue 2!

Follow me on Twitter: @jasonahart

Cross-posted at Third Base Politics.

Protect Ohio Protectors: Another Union Front

Apparently unsatisfied with union front group We Are Ohio’s dishonest emotional appeals against union reform, Protect Ohio Protectors built their own “No on Issue 2” website. Because they needed to… repeat the same dishonest emotional appeals:

This year we need to make sure we get out and vote because we are under attack by extreme politicians who have supported Senate Bill 5, the unfair, unsafe law that hurts all of us.

By “extreme politicians” the unions mean, of course, any politician operating from an address outside the AFL-CIO’s pocket. And really, what makes Senate Bill 5 unfair – the fact that it brings government compensation closer in line with what most taxpayers receive? What makes it unsafe? The cost-saving measures that will help local governments keep safety workers employed?

If you’re tired of the “unfair, unsafe law that hurts all of us” dreck, great news: Protect Ohio Protectors trumps it! One of the headings on the home page is FAITH, followed by this –

We are going to vote No on Issue 2 to stop SB 5 because Isaiah 1:16b-18a says “Cease to do Evil, Learn to do good; seek justice, rescue the oppressed, defend the orphan, plead for the widow. Come now, let us argue it out, says the Lord.”

There you go, folks, straight from the Good Book! Limiting the power of union bosses is evil, and government workers are oppressed, orphaned widows. This reminds me of one of my favorite verses, “Cease to do Mathematics; Raise often thine taxes and obey thou all union bosses’ commands.” Ah, pseudo-religious socialism. Good stuff.

Protect Ohio Protectors is about defending someone, that’s for sure – but it’s not safety workers. A Yes vote on Issue 2 will help local governments balance budgets without firing workers. Voting Yes on 2 is also better for Ohio’s taxpayers, employers, and… well, everyone except the union bosses.

Don’t accept the deceptions of bureaucrats who benefit from Ohio’s broken status quo: Vote Yes on Issue 2!

Cross-posted at Third Base Politics.

Union Bosses Use Soldiers as Props

The hits keep coming in the dishonest campaign against government union reform. This week Jack Reall, President of International Association of Fire Fighters (IAFF) Local 67 in Columbus, sent the following in an email:

Is there anyone union bosses won’t hide behind to shield the huge salaries they take from government workers? Does IAFF not realize this sort of transparent cynicism will only drive voters away? I’m no expert on the subject, but treating military uniforms as costumes for the purpose of silencing opposition strikes me as a low point among low points.

Also worth noting: members of the armed forces have no collective bargaining privileges. Really, aside from a tasteless attempt to frame Issue 2 supporters as unpatriotic I don’t see what message IAFF could be trying to send. Which would be consistent with everything We Are Ohio does, in a way!

When not outright false – refer to the alleged health insurance contributions of a We Are Ohio spokesman – union rhetoric is heavy on drama and light on details. D.C. unions are funneling millions into Ohio to flood the airwaves with pro-union public workers – whose dues fund uninterrupted union propaganda against the voters who pay their salaries. And, while union apologists smear anyone interested in fixing the broken status quo as a villain who is “attacking workers,” We Are Ohio is happy to attack public workers who step out of line.

Don’t blame government union members who buy We Are Ohio’s partisan theatrics; unions are pros at building a front of selflessness and credibility, so many teachers, police, and firefighters don’t have a reason to seek alternate news sources. Get the facts, let people know where those dues are being spent, and encourage your neighbors to support commonsense reforms that will save government jobs without raising taxes.

Vote Yes on Issue 2!

Cross-posted at Third Base Politics and RedState.

OEA President: “Members can not afford higher dues”

The Ohio Education Association (OEA) has nearly 130,000 members, and takes “fair share” dues from thousands more education employees across the state. OEA is the biggest in-state donor to We Are Ohio, so documented proof of OEA hypocrisy is… inconvenient.

OEA President Patricia Frost-Brooks, through an OEA employee's eyes

Is that why the official blog of the Professional Staff Union (PSU), which represents more than 100 OEA employees, disappeared a few weeks after I began posting quotes? Of course not, according to We Are Ohio apologists!

Still, in that boring, irrelevant blog, an 8/29/2010 email from OEA President Patricia Frost-Brooks included this startling revelation:

I’m also taking into account those locals who have had wage freezes, no step increases, and pay higher cost for health care, or who took no increases in pay to keep healthcare.

Last summer, the OEA President was eager to explain why OEA salaries couldn’t increase forever with no relation to reality. A fair argument, with union staff pay averaging more than $95,000.

I’m also taking into account the local presidents who have told me to please keep the cost down of PSU because there [sic] members can not afford higher dues for their(PSU)contract

Cause and effect, both together in one sentence!? When it comes to once-public funds that have been siphoned into OEA’s hands, OEA is quick to explain nothing is free.

More money for OEA employees has to come from somewhere, and President Frost-Brooks doesn’t want members to have a reason to step out of line. Taxpayers, on the other hand, are none of OEA’s concern, so basic economics go out the window when defending the unsustainable benefits union bosses promise to members.

In an email from the previous year’s OEA – PSU contract fight, President Frost-Brooks showed how much tact $196,294 could get you in 2009:

Communications by PSU lack credibility because they are misleading and sometimes inaccurate.

Nothing says “solidarity professional” like calling your employees liars! I doubt this is the sort of representation many Ohio teachers have in mind when they fork over hundreds of dollars to OEA each year.

Unlike communications from OEA employees, the words of OEA bosses carry unquestionable authority. Undermining my point that government union leaders tend to be selfish hacks, Frost-Brooks took a paltry $190,000 from Ohio educators in fiscal 2010.

Ohio teachers and taxpayers should unite to limit the power of selfish, cynical union bosses: Vote Yes on Issue 2!

Cross-posted at Third Base Politics.