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Republican Gov. John Kasich of Ohio is calling for "compromise" now that his anti-collective bargaining law passed earlier this year appears to be in trouble. He held a press conference to plead his case:
"We are now standing here saying to people, 'bring your grievances to us. We will look at them,'" said Kasich, who was joined at the news conference by fellow Republicans, House Speaker William G. Batchelder and Senate President Tom Niehaus. "Why would people say 'I'm not going to talk?'
"It doesn't mean that because you talk you reach agreement," he said. "Just because you talk doesn't mean you work it all out. But I think the public would like us to talk. So we'll see where this all goes."
Kasich says his timing has nothing to do with efforts to repeal the law, or with a recent Quinnipiac poll that shows the measure being defeated by a double-digit margin.
"This is not an effort that is being put forward because we fear we're going to lose," Kasich said.
"Let's see where all this goes. Maybe we get somewhere, maybe we won't," Kasich said. "If we don't get anywhere, see you in November."
Kasich, notably, suggested no potential areas of compromise and made no real commitment to talk to the working families of Ohio.
We Are Ohio, the group behind the repeal drive, issued the following response:
We are asking you for a fresh start, and that fresh start must begin with a full repeal of Senate Bill 5.
A complete repeal of Senate Bill 5 would go a long way toward creating an environment for compromise, restoring trust in government by the electorate and setting the table for meaningful negotiations about creating jobs, rebuilding Ohio’s economy and moving the state forward.
Under your authority, we ask that you call the Ohio General Assembly into session and repeal Senate Bill 5 in its entirety. With this fresh start, we can begin to build a good faith agreement based on shared values, principles and known facts:
So, basically, thank you. We appreciate the gesture of asking for compromise. Make it more than a gesture and we'll be more than happy to talk.
Earlier this year, Kasich signed into law the bill that would strip collective bargaining rights for 360,000 Ohio workers. The bill has not yet gone into effect since the referendum effort collected enough signatures to get on the ballot.
More than 1.3 million Ohio citizens signed petitions to get the repeal on the ballot -- more than six times the required amount.
Observers think it unlikely that the bill will be repealed by the Republicans and, in that case, the referendum will appear on the November 2011 ballot. A recent poll had the bill being repealed by a 56-32 percent margin. Labor leaders think that the results of the Wisconsin recall elections have Kasich on the run. Upon seeing the results of the Wisconsin recalls -- where Democrats won five of nine recall elections -- Kasich called for compromise.
Working America reports that Kasich has fought compromise every step of the way to date, as he:
• Described his political agenda like this just three days after his election: “If you think you’re going to stop us, you’re crazy. You will not stop us. We will beat you...If you’re not on the bus, we’ll run over you with the bus. And I’m not kidding.”
• Demanded that Ohio teachers unions take out a full page ad apologizing for not supporting his campaign.
• Repeatedly and publicly called a police officer who gave him a moving violation an “idiot” – shortly before pushing legislation that would take away bargaining rights from all Ohio police officers.
Kasich and his Republican allies also refused to meet with workers when crafting the collective bargaining bill.
Ohio state employees have already compromised in recent years and have surrendered $350 million in wage freezes, health care benefit cuts and other cuts to their compensation.