Ohio governor says he’s for jobs, not anti-union

Published 10:13 am Monday, February 28, 2011

COLUMBUS (AP) — Ohio Gov. John Kasich says he’s against joblessness, not unions, and is working on a state budget proposal aimed at creating jobs and economic growth.

The Republican worked on his budget Saturday as people rallied nearby at the Statehouse to protest Senate Bill 5, which would limit unions’ collective bargaining rights, The Columbus Dispatch reported.

“I’m not anti-union,” Kasich told the newspaper. “I think unions are an important part of the American fabric, but what we’re doing here is basically to start sticking up for taxpayers and private-sector workers who have made enormous sacrifices over the last decade.”

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Kasich said compensation for public employees has become more generous than in the private sector.

“It is very reasonable to have the same kind of provisions that private workers get,” the governor said. “I said during the campaign that what I was interested in was creating equity between public and private employees and that is exactly what this bill represents.”

Kasich said he sometimes talks with fellow GOP governors but denied they’re part of a coordinated effort to kill unions for public employees. He said he frequently talks to Gov. Scott Walker in Wisconsin, where a similar bill has caused nearly two weeks of protests with as many as 70,000 demonstrators.

Smaller rallies have been held in cities around Ohio, including Columbus, and organizers are planning another gathering this week at the Statehouse.

Calling the protesters “very nice people,” Kasich said to the Dispatch he understands their concerns and isn’t trying to hurt anyone. Republicans working on the bill are trying to help elected officials control spending, which would make local governments stronger and improve job security for public workers, he said.

“Some of (the protesters) are very misinformed about what we’re doing,” Kasich said. “But I’m not angry at the rank-and-file teacher or policeman or fireman or public employee. It’s not that at all. I think things will come out fine for them.”

GOP Senate leaders have been working on changes to the bill to satisfy enough of their members to get the measure out of committee Tuesday and through a successful floor vote that could come as early as Thursday. The Ohio bill initially was aimed at abolishing most collective bargaining rights, but a compromise that was announced would allow unions to negotiate on wages only and add a prohibition on public-employee strikes.