Ohioans Protest Governor’s Attacks on Employees, Jobs, Services
Ohio activists will protest at Republican Governor-elect John Kasich’s inauguration events this Saturday. Backers of the “Defend Ohio” campaign will march to the Statehouse in Columbus with signs and slogans in support of public employees and public services.
“Governor-elect Kasich is using public sector workers as scapegoats,” said spokesman Marc Auerbach. “He wants Ohio’s citizens to blame the unions for a fiscal crisis caused by the recession, years of unwarranted tax cuts for the wealthy, and spiraling health care costs.” The group says Kasich is cynically using the budget crisis to advance a longstanding anti-union and pro-privatization agenda.
Like many other newly elected governors, Kasich is making an assault on unions the centerpiece of his plans. He has said he will rescind the right of 14,000 state-financed childcare and homecare workers to form unions and wants to prohibit teachers from striking.
Ohio Republicans have also broadcast plans to cut budgets for schools, universities, and Medicaid.
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Defend Ohio members are concerned that Kasich has promised not to use $400 million in federal stimulus funds the state was due to receive for the 3C railroad project (Cleveland-Columbus-Cincinnati) and has refused to accept $400 million from the federal Race to the Top schools program.
“We don’t understand why Kasich has been in such a hurry to turn down federal money that could provide jobs for Ohioans and support our public schools in a time of crisis. His refusal of the Race to the Top money means fewer jobs for teachers, fewer school programs, and more crowded classrooms for kids,” said Auerbach.
Politicians in Illinois are also attacking teachers, with a bill that would make it easier to fire teachers and forbid unions to bargain over issues ranging from school closures to class size to length of the school day.
In New York state, public sector unions protested their own governor, this time a Democrat. The Public Employees Federation and Civil Service Employees Association held six candlelight vigils around the state December 29, protesting the layoffs of nearly 900 state workers by outgoing Governor David Paterson.