Ohio Voters Block Collective Bargaining Changes

Ohio voters on Tuesday blocked a measure that made changes to collective bargaining similar to those that were passed in Wisconsin.

Rather than recall, Ohio voters can gather petitions to force a referendum on whether a bill should become law, and they were aiming to block collective bargaining changes passed in March.

Voters headed to the polls Tuesday and rejected a law proposed by Ohio Gov. John Kasich and passed by their Legislature that increases pension and health care contributions for public employees, and curtails their collective bargaining rights.

Charles Franklin, a political scientist at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, said while the vote outcome may not have a direct impact on the recall of Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker, it will send a message about how voters feel about unions.

“What happens in Ohio sets the tone for where voters may be about union issues, and support for Gov. Walker’s initiatives about unions. What we see in Ohio is essentially the same thing is done there with respect to unions as was done here, except it included fire and police and others,” Franklin said.

Franklin said policy regarding state workers and collective bargaining is a very active topic in many states.

“So how Ohio reacts has implications in New Jersey and Michigan as well as in Wisconsin,” Franklin said.

Franklin also noted that polling numbers are different in Wisconsin. He said Walker has a slightly higher approval rating than Kasich.

Ohio’s referendum vote is a little simpler than a recall possibility in Wisconsin. Voters say yes or no to a specific idea in Ohio, while in Wisconsin voters will have to decide whether to throw an elected official out of office completely.

Union leaders in Wisconsin said the vote sends a clear signal to Wisconsin in other states that try to take away workers’ rights.

“Unlike Ohio, Wisconsin workers do not have the opportunity to put a referendum on the ballot. Thankfully we have the right to recall. Today’s win in Ohio has energized and excited Wisconsin workers to recall Gov. Walker and put a stop to his attack on working families,” said Phil Neuenfeldt, president of Wisconsin State AFL-CIO, in a statement.