The view from Ohio: Voters repeal harsh labor restrictions, but desperate times endure

The anti-labor fervor generated from Wisconsin earlier this year came to a decisive halt in Ohio on Tuesday, as Buckeye State voters overwhelmingly repealed a law that severely restricted public employee collective bargaining rights.

As reported by Sabrina Tavernise for the New York Times (link here):

A year after Republicans swept legislatures across the country, voters in Ohio delivered their verdict on a centerpiece of the conservative legislative agenda, striking down a law that restricted public workers’ rights to bargain collectively.

The landslide vote to repeal the bill — 62 percent to 38 percent, according to preliminary results from Ohio’s secretary of state — was a slap to Ohio’s governor, John R. Kasich, a prominent Republican who had championed the law as a tool for cities to cut costs. The bill passed in March on a wave of enthusiasm among Republicans fresh from victories at the polls.

Middle class tears and anxiety

Mother Jones Nov-Dec issue

The Ohio vote is a welcomed and dramatic response to the virulent attack on labor that has spread throughout much of the Midwest this year. Like the Occupy Wall Street movement, it may signal a much-needed public awakening about who is responsible for the continuing effects of the economic meltdown.

In the meantime, however, there is much desperation in Ohio, as everyday workers and their families struggle to keep their heads above water. For a vivid picture of what these folks are up against, please read Mac McClelland’s excellent “Ohio’s War on the Middle Class” in the current issue of Mother Jones magazine (link here). McClelland previews his piece:

Wherein I go home, watch public servants get axed, visit the warehouse of unbearable sorrow, hang with jobless thirtysomethings living in abandoned homes, and consider whether my generation is flat-out screwed.

McClelland is the human rights editor for the magazine, and he returned to his native Ohio to spend time with old classmates and friends. His purpose was to learn about the challenges they face in today’s economy, and the stories are heartbreaking and revealing. It’s one of the best profiles of how middle class America is disintegrating before our very eyes.

Cheer the voter slapdown of Ohio’s anti-worker legislation, but read McClelland’s piece in Mother Jones to find out what’s still at stake.

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