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Corporate union busters draw first blood in Ohio

By       Message Bob Fitrakis     Permalink
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Kasich tried to ban the media and the public from his inauguration.   He has warned opponents that they had better "get on the bus or get run over by the bus." 

Unlike Wisconsin, Ohio has no recall law.  The only apparent route to overturning this union-busting legislation may be with a statewide initiative or a constitutional amendment.  As the statehouse filled with union protestors, talk spread of how and when that might be done.  

Polls are showing overwhelming support for public workers, in part due to the blatant attack on Ohio's police and firefighters who are now barred from negotiating on safety issues. The bill bans binding arbitration used in the past to settle negotiations, and instead allows management to pick the settlement it wants. 

Ohioans may also consider a constitutional amendment to guarantee hand-counted paper ballots.  Electronic voting is dominated here by the successor to the Ohio-based Diebold corporation and the ES&S corporation, and other Republican-controlled voting machine companies.  The privatization of Ohio's voting and voter registration rolls corresponded with a 5.4% shift to the Republican Party not predicted by the exit polls in the 2010 election. Exit polls showed Kasich losing the election. 

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Overall the architectural map of the Ohio election system appears to give private voting companies contracted to the Secretary of State's office---currently headed by John Husted, a Republican---the ability to electronically select state office winners in a matter of a few minutes on election night.    Husted has already introduced legislation to restrict voting rights through demands for photo ID and other measures aimed at students, the elderly, poor and other Democrat-leaning citizens.   Without universal voter registration and hand-counted paper ballots, the Ohio Democratic party has little chance of winning statewide office for the foreseeable future, or of turning back legislative union busting.    

Key to the national corporate strategy now playing itself out in Ohio is the destruction of the Democratic Party's traditional base.  It is also about trashing teachers, firefighters, police and other citizens who choose to work for the general good rather than individual profit.  As Nina Turner, a Senate Democrat told the New York Times, "This bill seeks to vilify our public employees and turn what used to be the virtue of public service into a crime." 

It's widely believed Kasich will next assault Ohio's pubic school system, whose funding mechanisms have been repeatedly ruled unconstitutional by state courts.  Kasich is a cheerleader for private charter schools. The GOP is expected to push a voucher program that would use taxpayer money to subsidize private schools for the rich.  

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David Brennan, owner of White Hat Management, a chain of private charter schools, has consistently been the leading donor to the Ohio Republican candidates. Former Ohio Attorney General Richard Cordray filed a legal complaint against Brennan alleging that "White Hat's management agreements with the schools are invalid because the public charter schools handed over nearly all funding - 96 percent - to White Hat and were given essentially no accountability or transparency as to how the funds were spent." 

Kasich and the GOP have already moved to gut environmental regulations and turn the state's park system over to corporate extractors.  He is also expected to attack legislation mandating advances in renewable energy while pushing for a new nuclear plant to be built in southern Ohio by corporations poised to cash in on massive federal subsidies being proposed by President Obama (Nuke giveaway).  

While the mood of demonstrators yesterday at the statehouse was angry and defiant, there are no illusions about the stakes in this battle.  Governor Kasich and his wholly owned Republican legislature are born of unlimited Citizens United corporate cash and rigged electronic voting machines.  

It's thus no surprise that the first serious blood drawn in this latest corporate campaigns to finally wipe labor unions off the American map has come in the Buckeye State.  

The question now:  can the unions effectively fight back, in Ohio and nationwide? 

                     Photograph by Bob Studzinski 

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Bob Fitrakis & Harvey Wasserman have co-authored four books on election protection at http://www.freepress.org, where Bob's Fitrakis Files books appear.  Harvey Wasserman's History of the United States is at http://www.harveywasserman.com. Originally published by http://www.freepress.org.

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