November 9, 2011

Ohio referendum to protect collective bargaining has lessons for Pennsylvania

Ohio Issue 2 - Nov 2011On November 8, Ohio residents overwhelmingly voted to repeal a law aimed at slashing the benefits and bargaining rights of nearly 400,000 public employees. 

Reacting to the news, PSEA President Mike Crossey urged the Commonwealth's policymakers to abandon Gov. Tom Corbett’s legislative initiatives that the public strongly opposes.

Crossey said that the strong vote in Ohio is a victory for middle class Americans and evidence that extreme legislative agendas are out of step with the will of the people.

“This vote in Ohio is a victory for America's middle class,” Crossey said. “And, more than anything else, it is a victory for the people. In Ohio, the people spoke loud and clear. They said ‘enough’.”

The Ohio vote was a referendum on a controversial law the state Legislature passed in March, which would strip public employees of their collective bargaining rights, reduce their health insurance, and eliminate other legal protections and benefits. Voters objected to it, worked to repeal it through a state-wide referendum, and succeeded, with 61 percent voting to overturn it.

“I hope this message carries from one coast to the other. And I hope Gov. Corbett and our elected officials in Pennsylvania hear it,” Crossey said. “Our nation’s Constitution begins with the words ‘We the People.’ The people spoke in Ohio. And they are speaking here in Pennsylvania. We need to listen to them.”

Crossey cited recent public opposition to Corbett’s key education policy initiatives.

Corbett has recently focused on his taxpayer-funded tuition voucher plan, which 65 percent of Pennsylvanians oppose.

“The people are rejecting extreme political agendas and they are speaking out about it.” Crossey said. “They want solutions to the problems we are all facing.”

Crossey added that PSEA’s Solutions That Work initiative includes research-based education reform ideas that educators know work in their classrooms. These ideas, like individualized attention and tutoring, full-day kindergarten, small class sizes, and school safety programs also enjoy wide public support. A survey released in October indicated that more than 80 percent of Pennsylvanians support these ideas.

“The vote in Ohio is a lesson for us all,” Crossey added. “Let's listen to it. Let’s do what is right for working people, public school students, and the Americans who devote their lives to giving all of us a safe, bright future.”

Learn more about the Ohio campaign for collective bargaining rights on NEA's Education Votes website.

Pictured: NEA President Dennis Van Roekel (at right) working to protect collective bargaining rights in Ohio. Source: EducationVotes.



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