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Government and Politics

Supporters of collective bargaining call up specter of SB 5 to back Obama
Voters who repealed the law last year don't want their efforts to be set back by Romney being elected
This story is part of a special series.

Jo Ingles

It’s been a year since opponents of a collective bargaining ballot law that was repealed by voters last fall paraded in downtown Columbus to hand over petitions that would put the issue on the statewide ballot. Now, some of the backers of that effort are using it to convince Ohioans to re-elect President Obama. Ohio Public Radio’s Jo Ingles reports.

Ingles on the presidential race

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Last year, after Republican state leaders passed a controversial collective bargaining bill that slashed the power of public employee unions…. teachers, firefighters, police officers and other labor activists from around the state joined arms with Democrats in an effort to repeal that law.

They paraded through downtown Columbus, past the Statehouse, to the Secretary of State’s office where they unloaded a semi truck full of petition signatures.  They only needed fewer than 300 thousand valid signatures but they turned in well over one point three million.  Their energy was palpable.

Fast forward to now, one year later, a central Ohio police officer and a Democratic State Senator join a couple of organizers for President Obama’s re-election campaign on a sidewalk that, just a year ago, was filled with thousands of protestors.  Senator Charleta Tavares issues this warning about Republican Presidential candidate Mitt Romney.

“If he had his way, Mitt Romney would make issue two a nationwide problem.”

That’s a point Democrats are pounding in a new web ad:

“For all of the police and firefighters who worked very hard against issue 2, knocking on doors, making phone calls, they would be throwing all of that away if they vote for Mitt Romney.”

The police officer who makes that statement in that ad is Central Ohio officer Scott Clinger.  He says it’s important to remind Ohioans that Romney supported issue two and that he has come out against hiring more police officer and firefighters.  But on this day, Clinger is the only police officer speaking out at this event on the issue though he warns he’s not the only one working to defeat Mitt Romney.

“I am one of those working on the campaign and there are others out there, working on the campaign, making phone calls, knocking on doors and doing the same things that we did on SB 5.  We haven’t forgotten.”

Ohio’s largest labor federation, The AFLCIO, says its members are already working, behind the scenes, to insure President Obama’s re-election.  In a news release, the AFLCIO says it, along with other labor groups and an ally group… Working America, has been doing outreach and will do more.  The Labor 2012 operation plans to involve more than 70,000 volunteer shifts that will focus on voter registration, voter education and voter turnout in the coming months.  Chris Maloney, a spokesman for Republican Presidential candidate Mitt Romney, isn’t worried Democrats will be able to revive the spirit that led to the overwhelming repeal of the unpopular labor issue last year.

“This is nothing more than a pathetic attempt to distract attention away from Joe Biden’s awkward cancellation on Ohio Democrats earlier this week and the President’s failed policies which have left 425 thousand Ohioans struggling to find work.”

Maloney says he finds some irony when he compares the candidate Barack Obama of four years ago with the President Barack Obama of today.

“And it’s really telling that four years after they adopted the mantra of Hope and Change, it’s these kinds of actions that we’ve come to expect from the President’s campaign whose idea of support for labor and the middle class has been reduced to directing negative web video and holding press conferences.”

There are four months left until Ohioans vote.  A lot of money has already been spent on ads to persuade Ohioans for or against the candidates…..and most political pundits believe there will be many more ads between now and then.  In this swing state, the question might be which issue motivates voters the most.

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