Ohio Erupts Over Collective-Bargaining Reform

by Robert Costa

A first-term Ohio governor follows in the footsteps of Scott Walker:

With its Greek-style protests, Wisconsin figures prominently in the war between Republicans and public-sector unions. But another Rust Belt battle is brewing in Ohio, where Gov. John Kasich’s collective-bargaining reforms are being challenged at the polls.

Senate Bill 5, the sweeping legislation Kasich spearheaded, faces an uncertain future. A year-long referendum effort by Democrats and labor forces has put the issue on the ballot. On November 8, voters will have final say. “It’s just important for us to win, period,” says Kasich, a first-term Republican.

Kasich’s reforms, like Gov. Scott Walker’s in Wisconsin, have rattled government workers, who for decades have enjoyed cushy retirement and health-care benefits. Senate Bill 5 “is all about fairness,” asking state employees to contribute 10 percent of their salaries toward their guaranteed pensions and pay 15 percent of their health-care costs, Kasich says.

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