The Barbarians of Issue 2
Who exactly are these "barbarians at the gate" whom the vice president of the United States was talking about in Cincinnati, Ohio? James Hoffa on the same day declared war against the Tea Party from the Motor City, within earshot of Ohio. And just a few days later, President Obama came to the heart of Ohio giving a Jobs Bill speech to a crowd in Columbus, which is in the backyard of Speaker John Boehner and within earshot of Governor John Kasich, who just recently signed the infamous Senate Bill 5, now known as ISSUE 2. The level of aggression at all these speeches seems unwarranted, unless the real reason for the anger is examined for its true worth.
When Joe Biden grabbed the hand of Speaker Boehner just before the Obama Jobs Speech of Thursday, September 8, 2011, it was the vice president who declared, "We're at the gate, man," as he shook the Speaker's hand enthusiastically. "How you doin' pal?" Boehner shrugged off the comment and began to talk about his golf game. Meanwhile, organized labor implemented their tactics of harassment in an all-out effort to defend their members from the passage of Senate Bill 5, which they consider detrimental to their entire existence due to its reforms on public-sector unions. This public union fight is one of national implications.
S.B.5 makes it optional for public employees to be in a union. It asks public employees to pay 15% of their health care costs, while the private sector still pays 31%. It also eliminates binding arbitration, where contracts are settled locally without outside interference from federal mediators, and schoolteachers' ability to strike, which only makes sense for essential public workers. S.B.5 goes on in the same spirit, but what it does not do is eliminate collective bargaining or public unions, and it doesn't apply at all to unions outside the public sector. So why all the fuss?
The public unions, led by groups like SEIU and many others, hit the ground running the moment that S.B.5 was signed into law, and they collected 1.3 million signatures in an effort to repeal the law in the November elections of 2011. At that point, Senate Bill 5 became Issue 2 on the Ohio ballot. The public-sector unions did not take the time to consider why Issue 2 was created in the first place; instead, they instantly went into "radical" mode to fight any discussion of any reforms to the empire that public-sector unions have built for themselves.
A recent report from The Columbus Dispatch shows that public employees have a 43.4-percent edge in wages, benefits, and job security over their private-sector counterparts, so for the sake of Ohio's fiscal health, something must be done. It doesn't take a very hard look to understand what these unions are protecting when their wages and benefits are outpacing everyone else by almost half!
The disgrace of such a revelation, though, comes from how the unions avoid the wage issue and instead focus on pure emotion when trying to make their point. The first commercials produced by the unions, which show firefighters going into burning buildings or criminals hoping that police will not be on the streets because of Issue 2, make it clear that the union debating strategy is to avoid any reference to facts of any kind. In fact, in the middle of the fight for their very lives, they are completely unable to tell any voter how Issue 2 will actually hurt them. Every comment uttered in their campaign rhetoric amounts to nothing but fear of what they think will happen.
What is never discussed is that with or without Issue 2, or with or without public unions, Ohio will continue to have firefighters, police, and teachers employed in the positions of those public jobs. But to the unions, like SEIU, and the Teamsters, whom James Hoffa represents, Issue 2 is a major roadblock to the progressive reformation of the American experience, which started in 1962 with Executive Order 10988. When President Kennedy signed Order 10988 into law, it was the first time public-sector workers could organize under a union against their boss, the taxpayer.
That well-intentioned effort on behalf of Kennedy has turned out to be a major mistake, and Ohio, like many states, is seeking to go back in time to fix that critical error. This is what the real battle is all about. Jimmy Hoffa used to proclaim that he commanded one of the largest armies in America. It is this army that has driven up wages and benefits to that 43.4% edge over private-sector work, not to mention turned millions in dues into political contributions, which drive a progressive agenda nationwide.
Ohio more than Wisconsin is the battleground of the nation, where two American philosophies are colliding. One is the determination and individualism of the private sector, and the other is the collective salvation of the public worker. Anyone desiring a smaller government with fewer taxes must confront this issue of the public worker sooner or later. As evidenced by the 1.3 million signatures the unions collected to put Issue 2 on the ballot, Ohioans are already at that point where there may be too many people working for the government now to ever fix anything. It's simply too much to ask workers to vote against themselves once they are in a government job, considering the very good compensation they enjoy.
So when Biden told Boehner, "We are at the gate, man," he was making more than casual conversation. Those at the gate are fighting for their right to maintain the status quo in a battle which is erupting all across Ohio. Those name-callers who speak for the public unions have made it well-known that they will not argue neither facts nor figures, but they will take by force what they think belongs to them -- at least according to President Kennedy's Executive Order 10988.
The results of this battle mean everything for the future of our nation. What happens on Election Day will display clearly what kind of nation America is to be for the next hundred years.