The Corner

Statewide Vote on Public-Sector Collective Bargaining Coming to Ohio

Late last week, the Ohio secretary of state announced that the pro–public union group We Are Ohio had gathered enough signatures to put Gov. John Kasich’s recent public-sector collective bargaining changes to a statewide public vote:

[The group leading the repeal effort submitted 915,456 valid signatures to put the law on the November ballot, according to Secretary of State Jon Husted. Only 231,147 valid signatures were required.


“This is really a historic moment for us. We’re kicking off a campaign for social rights and justice,” National AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka said. “This is about defending the middle class. This is about saying what kind of state we will be and what kind of nation we will be.”

Supporters of the collective bargaining change aren’t holding out much hope that the new law will withstand the referendum. A Quinnipiac poll shows the public in favor of repeal, 56–32 percent. As with the recall efforts against Republican state senators in Wisconsin, millions of dollars of national labor money will likely pour into Ohio to defeat the new law, handing organized labor a much needed victory to flaunt nationwide. Of course, the more money public labor spends on these elections, the more it illustrates how much money they have been vacuuming from the pockets of taxpayers all along to fund campaign activity.

Perhaps most surprising about the Ohio referendum is the shockingly low number of signatures unions needed to collect to force a statewide vote. In order to overturn a law passed by the legislature and signed by the governor, a group needs only to collect signatures from 3 percent of the total votes cast in the prior gubernatorial election in 44 of the state’s 88 counties. In this case, that added up to 231,147 signatures (there are about 360,000 public workers in Ohio). More people likely purchased Screech’s Saved by the Bell tell-all book than signed the Ohio collective-bargaining-referendum petitions.

The Ohio Ballot Board is expected to meet in August to approve the specific wording of the referendum, which will be held on November 8.

— Christian Schneider is a senior fellow at the Wisconsin Policy Research Institute.

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