Optics, debunked talking points highlight Kasich’s initial stop on SB5-defense tour

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Monday, October 03, 2011 at 5:28 pm

Image by: Matt MahurinLast week, Ohio Gov. John Kasich (R) kicked off his campaign in defense of a law that strips collective bargaining rights of unionized public employees, and the optics were less than favorable.

According to The Columbus Dispatch, about 75 protesters weathered low temperatures and a driving rain on Thursday to greet Kasich and other supporters of the Senate Bill 5 as they arrived in their Sunday-best at a Toledo, Ohio, concert hall for the event.

The difference between the two sides was striking, the Dispatch reported:

About 150 GOP supporters, many of them in ties and jackets, filed into the bar where AC/DC, Journey and Motley Crue cover bands play on weekends, to hear Kasich speak — many of them jeered by the drenched union crowd as they walked into the building.

It was the exact contrast that Kasich and the Republicans are trying to avoid in this fall’s fight over Senate Bill 5: the working class pitted against the elite.

The social divide, however, was not nearly as wide as the disconnect between Kasich’s words and the facts surrounding the union-busting legislation.

During his speech, he claimed that SB5, the anti-union bill, is about forcing public employees to pick up a larger percentage of their health care and pension costs.

That can be done through the normal bargaining process, though, as evidenced by the fact that in 2008 alone, Ohio public workers made concessions totaling $250 million in savings for the state and local governments.

Kasich claimed union leaders across the state are unwilling to negotiate contracts that require public employees to contribute anything toward their pensions or health care premiums.

This point, which Kasich has raised in the past, was rated “Mostly False” by PolitiFact Ohio in August.

During the speech, it appears that Kasich ignored other aspects of the legislation. SB5 will bar firefighters and police officers across the state from bargaining for staffing levels, which is likely to increase response times in emergencies. SB5 also strips teachers of the ability to negotiate for smaller class sizes and professional development time.

SB5 will receive a final public airing on the November ballot via a voter referendum, known as Issue 2.

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