Class war on the ballot in Ohio
"There's a class war alright. My class is making the war, and we are winning."
ON NOVEMBER 8, Ohioans, through a referendum, will have the chance to overturn legislation that is designed to crush public-sector unionism, and thereby weaken all unions in the state.
No one can look at this upcoming vote on Issue 2 in Ohio and not be reminded of Warren Buffet's famous saying.
When the Republicans took over many state legislatures after the 2010 elections, they embarked on an attack not only on public-sector workers and the unions they built, but, through introduction of right-to-work legislation, on union workers in the private sector. Maine's newly elected governor went so far as to tear down a mural in the statehouse that depicted hard-working Americans doing their jobs.
All of a sudden, the working people, who built this country, were turned into the enemies of this country by the Wall Street worshippers who took office.
To buttress this attack on workers' rights, they then went after voting rights affecting the working poor, elderly poor and students by trying to deny them the right to vote through voter suppression acts (forcing the purchase of IDs--which is the same as a poll tax--and other measures), and then to top it off, they instituted drug testing for the common people who receive any kind of government assistance.
If you are rich and receive government handouts or you're a politician receiving government pay, you're exempt from this indignity.
Here in Ohio, the Republicans cut taxes in 2005 on the wealthy and corporations, costing the state of Ohio over $2 billion a year in revenue. This Wall Street governor then comes along, and slices and dices even more money that should have gone to the cities, villages, school districts and state agencies--and then cuts taxes even further for his wealthy class of donors.
The governor's plan to make up for that lost revenue? Have the cities, counties, state agencies and school districts make up this massive revenue shortfall by taking it out of the pockets of the public-sector workers through gutting the rights they had gained through the collective-bargaining bill enacted in the mid-1980s.
The governor then employed the divide-and-conquer tactic the rich and powerful always use, convincing Ohioans to turn against one another by scapegoating public-sector workers, and the unions they have built, as the cause for the state's fiscal situation.
While we in Ohio will soon be bombarded by a late barrage of commercials telling us how evil, wicked and greedy public sector workers are, let us remind ourselves who is financing these attacks on the hard working people of Ohio--the Wall Street governor's very rich in-state and out-of-state friends.
As the Occupy Wall Street message resonates across the land, let us remember who it is that is benefiting from this attack on the working poor, the workers and the unions they have built, the 1 percent who have watched their net wealth soar to astronomical heights, while the rest of us working stiffs watch an ever-expanding attack on our families' shrinking standard of living.
It comes down to one basic question when Ohioans enter the booth on November 8: Do they stand with the overwhelming majority of the people of Ohio--both public-sector workers and private-sector workers, and the families they are trying to raise in these tough economic times--or do they stand with the multi-millionaires and billionaires, whose greed is insatiable. Whose side are you on?
Rick Kepler, Teamsters organizer, Ohio