Governor Kasich, Senate President Tom Niehaus and Speaker Bill Batchelder held a press conference today to announce that they are inviting opponents of Senate Bill 5 to sit down on Friday to work out a compromise. But the We Are Ohio campaign immediately said there would be no compromise.
Kasich said avoiding a fight over state Issue 2 is in “best interest of everyone, including public employee unions.” He asked the unions to “set aside political agendas and past offenses.”
But We Are Ohio, the coalition that is leading the effort to overturn the collective bargaining law, reacted negatively almost immediately.
“They can repeal the entire bill or join us in voting no on Nov. 8,” said spokeswoman Melissa Fazekas.
My initial reaction is that I don’t think the unions will accept a compromise. I also don’t think that Kasich believes that the unions will accept a compromise.
I think they went public with this to show that they are willing to have discussions, and then let the unions display their unwillingness to compromise by walking away. For example, it was confirmed during the announcement that there were talks between the OEA and AFL/CIO with people representing Kasich, something that We Are Ohio denied on Friday. The governor also said that there were some good ideas on the table then, but the unions walked away.
While polls have shown that Ohioans will reject Senate Bill 5 in November, there are parts of the bill that are popular in those same polls. An example of that would be support for requiring public employees to contribute more towards their own health care and retirement.
By making this very public invitation now, I think they expect the unions to refuse again, demonstrate the same total opposition to any change in the status quo, hoping that that will turn some voters towards voting yes on Issue 2 and keeping the reforms that we need to help turn Ohio around.
Of course, this is just speculation. Is that their strategy? Would that strategy work? Will the unions accept the governor’s invitation? Time will tell.