The Corner

Rust Belt Blues

My New York Post column today contemplates the unhappy likelihood that Ohio voters are about to hand Gov. John Kasich and the public-employee-union reform movement a stinging defeat. 

All eyes should be on Ohio tomorrow as voters decide whether to roll back Gov. John Kasich’s bold public-employee reforms. Passed this year, the much-needed course correction sharply curtailed collective-bargaining privileges for the state’s 350,000 taxpayer-funded workers, giving the state — facing an $8 billion shortfall — a fighting chance to get its budgetary house in order.

It’s another battle in a war under way all across the nation.

Just as in Wisconsin, where a similar law was the subject of a prolonged, anti-democratic wrangle that ultimately went the Republicans’ way, Big Labor has gone all out against reform. Well-funded organizers fanned out, gathering 1.3 million signatures to put a repeal measure, Issue 2, on the ballot.

Sadly, the odds favor repeal. The pro-union group We Are Ohio has amassed a $24 million war chest to roll back Kasich’s sensible reforms — far larger than the rival Building a Better Ohio’s $8 million campaign in favor of them. A late-October poll showed repeal leading by 57 percent to 32 percent, and Kasich now ranks as the most unpopular US governor, with a 54 percent disapproval rating.

I take some grief from my lefty buddies for my allegedly “union-busting” sentiments, but really, how hard is it to conceptually distinguish between a truly adversarial private collective-bargaining process, in which both sides have something to lose, and the sham racket that takes place in the public arena? It’s like watching the aftermath of a mugging as two crooks argue about divvying up the swag while the victim (in this case, the taxpayer) lies bleeding on the sidewalk. And try this Fun Fact on for size:

Perhaps no place illustrates more vividly the magnitude of the public-employee problem than San Francisco. The City by the Bay now supports 26,000 public employees — and 28,000 retirees, ballooning its pension “obligations” by $100 million a year.

That’s right — San Francisco is effectively supporting an invisible, nonworking “work force” even larger than its official one.

Maybe on some planet there exists a country so rich that it can afford to pay people not to work, in some cases quite handsomely, but it ain’t this one.

It’s this simple: If Kasich loses tomorrow, we all lose — including the public-employee unions. After all, we all know the fable of the Golden Goose.

Don’t we?


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