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Ohio Issue 2: Richard Trumka, AFL-CIO President, Declares A Victory For The 99 Percent

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OHIO LABOR
AP

WASHINGTON -- Connecting the results with the Occupy Wall Street movement, organized labor is taking a victory lap over Tuesday's repeal of Ohio's controversial collective bargaining law.

In a conference call with reporters on Wednesday, AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka said the 60-percent vote against Issue 2 showed that the state -- and country -- was moving towards supporting the right of public workers to collectively bargain, as well as showing the strength of the labor movement. Labor forced the statewide referendum to overturn the law that Gov. John Kasich (R) signed earlier this year.

"Working people, the 99 percent, are standing up to governors like Kasich with a radical agenda and their corporate donors and saying enough is enough," Trumka said.

Trumka explained he believes the Ohio results show that voters are looking for governors to focus on job creation and not on public employees. He also warned governors that the AFL-CIO is going to keep monitoring state government proposals to protect public employees. It is part of a goal of making the U.S. a "middle class country," he said.

Trumka specifically identified the states of Pennsylvania, Indiana, Illinois, Ohio, Michigan, Wisconsin, Florida and Missouri as ones that the organization will focus on. All presidential election swing states, with the exception of Missouri and Illinois, have Republican governors. He said the union's efforts will include beefing up its political arm to transition between advocacy and election-related activities with state governments.

The AFL-CIO used the call to release the results of an exit poll conduced by Hart Research Associates on the group's behalf. The poll showed similar results to the final referendum, and noted that support for defeating Issue 2 brought in demographic and geographic support across the Ohio electorate.

The poll also indicated that Mitt Romney's and Rick Perry's support for Issue 2 could potentially hurt either of them if tapped as the 2012 Republican presidential nominee. The results showed that 49 percent of those surveyed were less likely to vote for Romney due to his support on Issue 2 and 51 percent were less likely to vote for Perry for taking the same stance.

Echoing previous comments made by Ohio political experts to The Huffington Post, the poll showed that 58 percent of those surveyed did not expect the collective bargaining bill to be part of the agenda when voting for Kasich. The poll did show, however, that Kasich voters were more likely to support the bill than those who voted for his 2010 opponent, former Gov. Ted Strickland (D).

Kasich said Tuesday night that he respects the vote on Issue 2 will focus on the impact of the vote. Kasich was the law's biggest advocate, campaigning statewide to prevent the repeal in what has become the defining issue of his first year in office. Political experts in the state told The Huffington Post last month that they do not believe the defeat will cause long-term damage to the Republican governor.

Trumka did not connect the Issue 2 results with voters' passage of Issue 3, a state constitutional amendment banning the federal health care law from taking effect in Ohio, which many interpret to indicate that Ohio was against the bill and not becoming more liberal on the whole.

"It's pretty shameful to put up a pretend initiative on health care," Trumka said. "It is blatantly unconstitutional."

As far as next year's presidential election, Trumka said that President Obama and other candidates should focus on job creation policies and not on public employee benefits.

"They overreached -- they thought they could do anything and no one would care," Trumka said of Republicans. "If you make war on workers, it's not a good electoral strategy."

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