Please join me in welcoming Coelho as a new contributor at 3BP. -Bytor
Yesterday the Ohio Ballot Board approved proponent and opponent statements to be published in newspapers and posted at the polls at public expense for Issues 1, 2, and 3 this November. This “approval” is little more than a formality, as the board lacks the authority to reject the submitted arguments provided it’s less than 300 words. For the biggest fight on the ballot, Issue 2, you can read the proponent and opponent arguments here. The proponent argument, written by 4 Republican lawmakers, lays out an argument for restraining the excesses of public sector unions’ collective bargaining through SB5, backing up several points with statistical facts. Is it written in a way meant to politically persuade? Of course. Every proponent/opponent argument since the dawn of time has been meant to persuade, and this is no different. It wouldn’t be a good proponent argument if it wasn’t persuasive. The “We Are Ohio” opponent argument however is a stream of lies and scare tactics union bosses and liberals have used for generations.
Reading the lies of big money unions that the public will pay to publish is an IQ lowering endeavor into fear baiting. They lie when they say it puts people at risk and threatens police and fire fighters access to safety equipment. The truth? SB5 has a provision specifically declaring that bargaining for anything deemed safety equipment shall not be impacted by the law. They lie when they say it hurts the nursing shortage and cuts their salaries. The truth? First, there are no cuts to wages or benefits to any government employee mandated in SB5. Current contracts remain in effect until their expiration, and the new provisions would only impact the next contract. Even then, giving state and local governments a more level playing field in negotiations does not equate to some great slashing of wages/benefits.
Second, minimal staffing levels would be a condition of employment, an aspect SB5 declares is still subject to collective bargaining. They lie when they say there’s some evil “loophole” being used to exempt certain people. The truth? No loophole exists. The provisions contained in SB5 will apply to all state/local employees. They lie when they say police, fire fighters and teachers “lose their rights and see wages and benefits gutted”. The truth? Again, no one’s wages are cut by SB5, and receiving superior benefit packages while paying less for them than private sector counterparts is not a “right”. Providing greater parity between public and private sector is not the “gutting” of their compensation. They lie when they say “big corporations” and “high-paid lobbyists” are attacking and blaming the middle class. The truth? Well, I could an entire post on the demonizing of lobbyists (noticed more than a few ‘champions of the people’ Democrats had no qualms getting food and drink from the evil AEP corporations’ “high-paid lobbyists” the other day), but the idea that asking government employees to contribute a little more to their benefits and placing mild limitations on bargaining is the same as “blaming middle class Ohioans” for the budget struggles is absurd on its face. The only ones blaming others are the We Are Ohio writers who came up with this manifesto of lies and innuendo.
This isn’t the first instance of unions lying about SB5, and I feel safe saying it won’t be their last. If you’ve followed this issue at all no doubt you’ve heard unions lament how they were “shut out of the process”, how Republicans “refused to listen to them”, and that they “tried to negotiate”. But facts are stubborn things, as John Adams said. Six months ago union leaders told Democrats in the state legislature not to propose any amendments, declaring the bill unfixable. Don’t believe me? Read it yourself (paragraph 17). House and Senate Democrats fell in line and obeyed the union edict. Translation: They shut themselves out. They aren’t interested in negotiation: it’s all or nothing in their world. Then there’s the “army of volunteers” and “grassroots organization” they love to tout. Yes, they did collect about 900,000 signatures to put Issue 2 on the ballot. Funny thing though: the “10 thousand volunteers” that collected signatures somehow cost them:
That’s right, one million dollars. Seems volunteers don’t come so cheaply in the Age of Obama. Now you might see that figure and ask “But, where did We Are Ohio get a million dollars? Some massive grassroots organization of concerned citizens?” I would point you to this analysis of We Are Ohio’s funding. Yep, unions. More specifically, union dues and fees funneled along. Their top 10 donors (all unions) combine for $5,397,000 of cash and in-kind donations. Individual donors? A little over $39,000, a whopping 0.56 percent of the 7 million total. Grace Slick must be proud. Not the counter-culture icon Grace Slick doing backup vocals on “Volunteers” in Jefferson Airplane mind you, but the “We Built This City” era singer for Starship, icon for anyone hoping to sell themselves out for big money. Then there’s the “Stand Up for Ohio” rally last weekend. On their Facebook page, when asked how many attended, their answer was “25,000!!!” And just look at the thousands rallying. (Note to “Stand Up for Ohio”: If you’re going to claim 25,000 attended an event, don’t link to photos showing a crowd of maybe 250, 300 tops.) Every step of the way, “We Are Ohio” has built its campaign on a web of lies.
Why do they do it? What motivates the lies? One word: power. Union bosses are in this fight all the way because they want power. Not for “the people”, not for “the working class” or “union employees”, but for themselves. Unions collect millions from workers and devote a large percentage of their cash not to promoting the interests of the workers they claim to represent but rather to promote the Democratic Party. The collectivist mentality of liberalism is copacetic with the union line. Where an individualist mindset sees the idea of merit pay based upon an established set of standards determined by peers in the profession a logical way to reward excellence, the union collectivist sees a threat. If individuals are rewarded for their individual quality, blind loyalty to a large union claiming to represent their best interests makes no sense. That’s also why unions hate the idea of layoffs based upon anything other than seniority. People who have stayed in a unionized profession longer feel more loyalty and have been more thoroughly “educated” by union pamphlets and field reps than newcomers. Never mind that seniority-based layoffs can lead to teachers of the year being let go, as evidenced here and here. The truth is union bosses don’t give a damn how good any individual is as long as their collective grab to power is protected. That’s why the name “We Are Ohio” makes so much sense in a way. To these power brokers, they are Ohio, not you, not me, not “the working class” or “union employees”, but them, the leaders of the unions. They’ve been able to wield significant power ever since 1983, and they won’t give up even a little of their political influence without a massive, worker funded fight. It isn’t about protecting the people, it’s about insulating and manifesting their own power and influence.
Election Day 2011 is less than 80 days away. So far, unions and their millions of dollars have dominated the course of the debate on Issue 2. But it’s time for we the people, the real ‘We Are Ohio’, to make our voices heard. This is a fight not just over collective bargaining but over who leads and reigns in this state. Do you and I and the great silent majority of Ohio rule, or does power reside with people who believe and declare that “Once taxes are paid to the government, that money doesn’t belong to the taxpayer anymore”? (thanks Twitter handle @Notgvn for the insight into the liberal union mentality) The fight against misinformation and innuendo will not be easily won, but the fight is worth the effort. The reward is a step forward to Building a Better Ohio.