After securing electoral victory this November, Ohio Gov.-elect John Kasich quickly cast off many campaign-friendly principles to suit his preferred governing style. But his penchant for power consolidation took a remarkable turn yesterday when he unveiled his “personal philosophy” of contempt for worker’s rights at a press conference. Incensed over police and firefighter unions’ ability to call in a neutral arbiter to resolve any labor disputes, Kasich told the Youngstown Vindicator’s Marc Kovak that he’d love to eliminate that policy, known as binding arbitration, and fire any police or firefighter who wants to strike:
KASICH: You think these local governments want to be stuck with binding arbitration? I’m serious…Our local governments don’t want that, it drives up the cost. So we’re looking for ways to mitigate any of the reductions in dollars that people get, you know, how do we make it easier for them to be able to cope with it?
QUESTION: On that last point, wasn’t binding arbitration adopted as a way to eliminate the possibility of public safety forces striking?
KASICH: Right, if they want to strike, they should be fired. You should not allow, look, you should have a change in the law…there are ways to say that you are not going to strike, and we’re going to continue negotiations without a binding arbitrator…Binding arbitration is not acceptable.[…]
QUESTION: Just to make sure I’m clear, you do not think police and fire emergency services should have the right to strike?
KASICH: I don’t favor the right to strike of any public employee, ok? That’s my personal philosophy. How practical that is to implement, uh you know, but my personal philosophy is I don’t like public employees striking. I mean, they’ve got good jobs, high pay, good benefits, a great retirement, what are they striking for?
Kasich’s “personal philosophy” displays a remarkable dismissal of both freedom and fact. Workers strike as a last resort to eliminate inequalities in bargaining power and address problems including unsafe working conditions, unfair wages, and benefits. Ohio safety forces, however, are prohibited from doing so. Because “unstable” labor relations between safety workers and the city spurred “constant strikes,” Ohio passed a collective bargaining law in 1983 that prohibited public safety workers from striking. But, to ensure workers still had an option, Ohio replaced the right to strike with a binding arbitration policy. So, not only would Kasich like to fire any police officer or firefighter for a right they are not given, he wants to eliminate the only remaining tool they have as a viable alternative.
In defending his dictatorial philosophy, Kasich flags the “cost” such contractually-obligated rights level on local governments. A peculiar defense given that Kasich is hell-bent on dismantling Ohio’s economy before he even takes office. In pledging to kill Ohio’s high-speed rail project, he single-handedly drove away $400 million in federal funds from the state. His plan to scrap an education funding formula for Ohio’s school may also very well cost Ohio another narrowly-won $400 million in “Race to the Top” federal funds. If that’s not enough, Kasich’s plan to eliminate both Ohio’s income tax — nearly half the state’s revenue — would cost about $8.3 billion next year alone. Add another $288.5 million for his apparent plans to eliminate Ohio’s estate tax and Kasich is looking to more than double Ohio’s $8 billion deficit.
But still, according to Kasich’s personal philosophy, it’s the unions that are the problem. (HT: Plunderbund)