As I mentioned here, Mitch Daniels signed the union-busting legislation with the Orwellian name yesterday afternoon. Daniels had previously promised that he would oppose such legislation when he was running for office, but Republicans gonna Republican once they get into office, and Bush’s former budget director just couldn’t resist.
Last November in Ohio, voters there turned out in massive numbers to reject SB5, a similar proposal pushed through by the very unpopular John Kasich. And just like we saw in Wisconsin last February, and in Ohio in November, Indiana residents were none too happy with Daniels’ betrayal of unions.
This is going to be a disaster for Republicans, just like Scott Walker is learning up in Wisconsin and John Kasich is learning in Ohio. People like to throw around terms like “sleeping giant” in these situations, and they’re right.
There are, to me, two possibilities about Republican actions here. The first is that Republicans are so divorced from reality now that they think that people don’t really support union rights (polls say people support union rights; some disagree). The second is they knew this was coming but figured the opportunity to cripple union contributions to Democratic candidates was worth the temporary backlash.
Last November, when SB5 was on the ballot in Ohio, Kay at Balloon-Juice wrote the following:
Collective bargaining stands for the idea that your boss has to sit down with you and negotiate. That’s it. That’s all it means. It doesn’t mean you get a great pension and it doesn’t mean you pay 0% or 10% or 15% towards health insurance, because those things are not “collective bargaining”, those things are terms that can be and are negotiated when your boss has to sit down with you. People here know this, and it doesn’t matter how much direct mail Liz Cheney sends them that says otherwise. The terms aren’t the main issue. The fact that workers have the power to negotiate at all is the main issue.
Collective bargaining stands for the idea that your boss has to sit down with you and negotiate. That’s it, but that’s huge. What the people I spoke to and listened to since March heard from Republicans was this: “we don’t have to sit down with you at all, and we won’t”. That is a profound loss, an insult that cuts deep, and I’m not talking about bitching about health insurance premiums. People don’t tear up when they’re talking about 15% towards health insurance premiums. It’s dignity, it’s control, and it’s respect, both for public employees and for the work that they do.
Emphasis mine. As with all things that Kay writes, I couldn’t have summed up the issue any better, and I liked that post so much that I sent it to a friend of mine, a conservative who is a policeman in Ohio. I had never really talked directly to him about politics before, as it’s not really a thing he talks about much, but I knew enough to know that he didn’t agree with me much about anything political.
Here is what he sent back to me:
Thanks a lot for that. In line with her article is a little bit of info that we received. Kasich started floating a rumor around that the police and fire state organizations had agreed to sit down with him to discuss removing us from the bill. That was complete bullshit and never happened but it was almost brilliant strategy because we got word from the iron workers, steel workers, etc that if we met with him at all they would pull support. We had to put that fire out. Basically what Kasich is doing is raping funds that go to local gvts and was using SB5 as a tool for local gvts to make that money back up. He has an obessive hatred for teachers for some reason and we expect the next bill to focus only on them. Also, there are currently 3 different bills on the floor regarding our pensions. Kasich doesn’t belive that we should have pensions. Only 401ks. I just don’t understand where he thinks it’s his job to determine wehter I get a retirement or not. Especially when the state doesn’t pay us at all. I have always been a registered republican. I will never agree with liberals but I will be voting democrat from here on out.
Again, emphasis mine. Either the Republicans really think this is a winning issue for them (despite evidence, which isn’t new for them, but this is a lot of evidence) or they think the long-term effects of defunding unions are worth the temporary backlash. Mitch Daniels won’t be on a ballot again in Indiana so he doesn’t have to worry about that crowd of people up there. But Scott Walker is finding out what happens when you mess with unions in Wisconsin.
When I decided to write this post, I contacted my (formerly?) Republican friend in Ohio to ask if I could use his message. I offered to change anything he wanted to make it difficult for anyone we both know to figure out who he is, if he was concerned about that. He wrote me back:
Go for it. Screw Kasich.