Last week, Joe Vardon of the Columbus Dispatch reported that there had been meetings between Ohio Education Association (OEA) vice president William Leibensperger and AFL-CIO president Tim Burga and former GOP Ohio House Speaker Jo Ann Davidson and Chan Cochran, a representative of Governor Kasich. The Dispatch reports that two meetings took place to discuss the possiblility of watering down Senate Bill 5 in order to cancel the planned referendum on the bill.
When “We Are Ohio”, the coalition of unions opposed to SB5, held their “major campaign announcement” on Saturday, they were asked about these meetings. They denied that any meetings took place with any campaign officials, and denied any knowledge of such talks. Spokesperson Melissa Fazekas actually wanted us to believe that if We Are Ohio’s two largest contributors had met with the other side for talks, that We Are Ohio didn’t know about it. Uh-huh.
Then, yesterday, according to the Plain Dealer, Burga himself denied it.
COLUMBUS, Ohio – Ohio AFL-CIO President Tim Burga says the union “has never entered into any series of meetings or negotiations on Senate Bill 5,” the controversial collective bargaining law.
Burga issued a statement in response to a Columbus Dispatch article that named him as a union leader who in June participated with representatives of Gov. John Kasich in discussions to negotiate a compromise that would end union-led efforts to repeal the law this fall.
Burga called that report “erroneous.”
Just hours later, apparently called out on his comments by the Dispatch, Burga walked back his denial.
Burga, president of the Ohio AFL-CIO, confirmed in a telephone interview with The Dispatch last night that he attended two meetings with Jo Ann Davidson and Chan Cochran — the Republicans close to Kasich — and OEA Vice President William Leibensperger.
He also confirmed that ideas were shared on what a deal might look like that would strip Senate Bill 5 of much of its teeth while canceling a fall referendum on the bill, but he objected to those talks being labeled negotiations.
Burga said he “was not there to negotiate” but “was quite interested in what was said,” and he took the information to his union’s executive committee after the first meeting.
Notice how Burga is playing with words to make it sound like his initial denial was not an outright lie. I think once word got out that he had been talking about union concessions in exchange for weakening the bill, there was a lot of backlash among the campaign, so he had to come out and deny it. Luckily for us, The Dispatch had the goods on what really happened.
Here’s what voters need to keep in mind on November 8th when they decide on Issue 2:
If the union bosses won’t even be honest about whether they discussed the bill with the other side, how can you believe that they are being honest about all of the terrible things they are saying about the bill?
Ohioans are waking up to the unions’ propaganda. We posted about a recent poll, as did our friends over at GOHP Blog, showing that people are beginning to see through the class warfare tactics and swing our way.