Ohio SB5 and Kasich’s Election, or “the man ain’t got it can’t do nothing”

On March 31, Ohio Governor John Kasich signed SB 5 into law. In an earlier blog, I pointed out that it might be a good idea if grad students and professors unionize. Heck, even Stanley Fish came around. SB5, Ohio’s version of the bill that passed in Wisconsin, has been sent to the new Governor Kasich after passing 53-44 in the Ohio House and 17-16 in the Senate. Looks like the conservative Right is only gaining momentum.

Unlike the Wisconsin bill, the collective bargaining rights of police officers and firefighters have been wiped out. But, don’t worry; everything’s not too gloomy. Republican State Rep. Bob Peterson has pointed out, without joking apparently, that at least police and firefighters won’t go to jail if they strike. Well, thank heavens for that. I guess you’re free in the United States to find a job, to work at that job, but don’t think about challenging your employer. “Freedom,” as defined by Rep. Peterson, is a one-way street.

Intriguingly though, is one Republican who voted against the bill shedding light on the conflicts within Republican ideology. State Rep. John Carey rejected the bill because he has long supported collective bargaining rights, like many of his Republican ancestors after World War II when business (for better or worse depending on your position) realized stability was a plus. And collective bargaining gave you that.

Protest against SB5

Teachers are another interesting case in point. A colleague of mine has pointed out that 40 percent of teachers voted for (yes, for) Kasich. It would be interesting to interview those who did to find out why. On the others side, on teacher told a local newspaper reporter, “I’ve spoken to a lot of educators who are typically straight-ticket Republicans that have said to me that they won’t ever vote for another Republican because of how this bill’s been pushed through and the democratic process has been abused.” They won’t vote for another Republic because they pushed the bill through? Yes, that makes perfect sense. Then again, roughly 60 percent of people with college degrees voted for Kasich (this is perhaps reflective of the class statistics included below).

Other statistics are telling. Race and class votes are also telling in these terms as well as Republican policy generally. 90 percent, yes nine out of ten, African Americans voted for Strickland, the Democrat. About 60 percent again of whites voted for Kasich. Shocker. Next, the class trends are also amazingly straightforward:

  • Under $30,000
    • 53% Strickland
    • 38% Kasich
  • $30,000 – $49,999
    • 49% Strickland
    • 47% Kasich
  • $50,000 or more
    • 40% Strickland
    • 58% Kasich
  • $100,000 or more
    • 31% Strickland
    • 68% Kasich

To put it simply, unionizing is really one of the only instruments workers have to match their employers. Reflecting back on his time working at a Charlotte textile mill in the early twentieth century, George Dyer said it better than I can:

The corporations take advantage of the people. They can do it because they can. That’s the reason they do it, the can and they get away with it. It say, “Justice for All,” and it ain’t justice for all. It’s justice for some, but it ain’t for all. You say you’re all equal–you ain’t. We’re divided. our country right now is divided. The man’s got money, he can get what he wants, the man ain’t got it can’t do nothing. The man’s got money, got power. That’s about all I have to say.

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