In a stinging defeat of the Republican’s national agenda to undermine workers’ rights, voters in the state of Ohio roundly rejected a ballot initiative that would have limited public unions. Specifically, the law would require union members to pay 15 percent of their health care costs, as well as stripped them of their right to collective bargaining.
With 97 percent of the precincts in Ohio reporting, the law was rejected by 61 percent of voters compared to 39 percent who supported it. The vote was closely watched by other states who are contemplating similar measures in order to force unions to help them reign in budget deficits.
However, the short-sightedness of such measures, which were passed in Wisconsin last year and failed to pass in Indiana, must be pointed out. If workers in the public sector are stripped of their rights, like workers in private sector, all workers will lose as more power over wages, employment conditions, and job benefits are ceded to employers. While corporate profits are at record highs in spite of the dismal recession and anemic labor market, real wages for working individuals and families continues the pace of its decades long decline.
It should be apparent to many working people in America that the social contract is broken, and that the ideal of equality of opportunity is tarnished in an economic environment in which the wealthiest makes gains at the expense of the least well-off. If America wants to return its economy to a position of competitiveness, this will not happen with macroeconomic magic tricks like “quantitative easing” or new social media that allow morons to tweet their dinner preferences. Americans must demand better wages, better working conditions, and a new social contract that is committed to redistributing the benefits and burdens of capitalism according to our ideals of justice.