By Juanita Bratcher
It was a â€œhallelujah dayâ€ and a great night after polls closed, November 8, 2011 for unions and working middle class people in Ohio, when on Election Day they succeeded in turning back a union-busting law that would have denied them a future voice at the negotiating table.
The power of the people should never be underestimated! When people work together for a worthy cause and for the good of all, they can change things. But they must have that motivation, fighting spirit, hard work and dedication to fight for what they believe in to make it a successful endeavorâ€¦to make it happen! And they did just that! Working class men and women, union representatives and supporters, and thousands of volunteers worked laboriously to defeat legislation by Ohio Gov. John Kasich and his Republican allies that helped push it through.
The legislation hinged on stripping away the rights of thousands of workers and power from public-sector unions.Â
I have always championed the cause for collective bargaining rights and voting rights.
As a News Reporter/Journalist, I have penned many articles in that regard, and on politics and government. Iâ€™ve been a card carrying union member at every job where Iâ€™ve worked if there were union representation in place. And I am a strong supporter of collective bargaining rights.
From my perspective, union bargaining rights for their membership is a part of the American process â€“ that there definitely is a place at the table for unions to negotiate with company officials in the best interest of their membership.Â
My late husband, Neal A. Bratcher, Sr., was a labor executive. He served as the Executive Director of Council 19 (American Federation of State, County & Municipal Employees (AFSCME, AFL-CIO) in Chicago, an umbrella union consisting of several local unions, including Local 1657. He was also a Vice-President on the International Board of AFL-CIO.
Certainly, Â I do not see management as the enemy, itâ€™s just that I prefer management and union meet at the table as equals, and share a collective role in solving disputes.
Under the defeated Ohio Bill, public workers were banned from striking (something that was already prohibited) and established penalties for workers who participate in walkouts. However, unionized workers in Ohio would be in a position to negotiate wages, hours and certain other work conditions void of sick time, health care and pension benefits. The legislation also put an end to automatic pay raises, and future wage increases would be on the basis of merit.
Â Ohioâ€™s Bill was passed and signed into law March 30, 2011. Those in opposition of the law had 90 days to collect 230,000 signatures for recall. They collected well over a million signatures to recall the law. Reportedly, more voters voted against the law than Kasich had garnered in winning the governorship.
Another victory in the November 8th election was a vote to maintain same day voting registration.
Collective bargaining is as much American as apple pie. But it seems the urge to kill-off collective bargaining rights tends to be part of a growing trend. And most working Americans, regardless of ethnicity, age or Party affiliation, Democrat or Republican, want fairness in the workplace.
As pointed out in an April 2011 article in CopyLine Magazine, workers should always have the right to union representation. For American workers or working men and women anywhere collective bargaining is a part of the American process and elsewhere. This should be a shared effort, a negotiable effort between management and unions whether at state or corporate levelâ€¦and no open and shut one-sided decision. They must sit at the table together with a collective voice in solving disputes and coming up with workable solutions.
Juanita Bratcher is the Publisher of www.copylinemagazine.com, the author of several books, songwriter and poet. She has been a Journalist for more than 35 years covering politics, education and a wide-range of other topics.Â