Wow. Our experiment is off to a great start—let's see if we can finish it off sooner than expected.
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More than seven months after Republican Gov. John Kasich signed it into law, Ohioans have repealed SB 5, the anti-union legislation that would curb collective bargaining rights for 350,000 public workers and gut the political power of public-sector unions. With nearly 2.4 million votes cast, Issue 2, the up-or-down ballot referendum deciding SB 5's fate, was headed for a whopping defeat, 61 percent to 39 percent. The Associated Press called the race for Issue 2 opponents around 9:15 p.m.
Labor unions hailed the victory as a "win for all working people" and a rebuke of a Republican agenda aimed at kneecapping the power of organized labor. "One message rang loud and clear tonight in Ohio and across the country: those who spend their time scapegoating workers and pushing a partisan agenda will only strengthen the resolve of working people," Richard Trumka, president of the AFL-CIO, said in a celebratory statement. "This was a brazen attempt to silence the voice of the 99%; the voters saw through it and vetoed it," Gerald McEntee, president of the American Federation of State, County, and Municipal Employees, said in a statement.
The White House weighed in Tuesday night with a message of support for Ohioans who voted to repeal SB 5. "The president congratulates the people of Ohio for standing up for workers and defeating efforts to strip away collective bargaining rights, and commends the teachers, firefighters, nurses, police officers, and other workers who took a stand to defend those rights," White House press secretary Jay Carney said.
In a press conference after the defeat, Gov. Kasich said of voters, "I've heard their voices." However, Kasich warned that Ohio remained in a dire fiscal situation and that action was needed to avert calamity. "Let me be clear: There is no bailout coming," he said.
Republican state Sen. Thomas Niehaus said at the same press conference that "the message going forward is we still have challenges and we look forward to working with local governments" to address those fiscal challenges around the state. "The voters have spoken," Niehaus said. "We have heard them."