Building a Better Ohio is running two TV ads in which a woman’s voice says we should vote yes on because Ohio’s public employees already make “43 percent more than us” and want even more in salary and benefits that “we” will have to pay for. Who is this “us” and “we”? “Us” and “we” are the more than 5 million employees in our state (Ohio Department of Job and Family Services), and I am one.
And what does that 43 percent mean? Teachers in Ohio have an average salary of around $50,000, so the “us” and “we” average $28,500. That puts “us” together with the teachers in the same camp: the middle class. None of “us” is even close to rich.
In the Building a Better Ohio ads, the woman’s tone of voice is sometimes whiny and sometimes angry and resentful — and it’s the latter that I find most objectionable. Resentment is a very human emotion. I confess that I often find myself resenting the incredibly wealthy, especially in times like these when so many are hurting. However, resentment is also a rather base emotion which can lead to base actions, like revenge.
But this is what the wealthy folks behind Building a Better Ohio are appealing to. They are playing the old “divide and conquer” game: “Let’s get the un-unionized workers to resent the unionized workers and then get revenge by helping to destroy their unions.” If that happens, those folks will truly be laughing at all workers on their way to the bank.
Some may accuse me of indulging in class warfare, but one can argue that class warfare has been a reality in this country ever since our Founding Fathers restricted the vote to white, property-owning males. One can also argue that in this “war” collective bargaining — negotiating contracts with the other side — is a fair and civilized way to arrive at a “peace treaty,” one in which both parties make compromises.
I helped create a collective bargaining unit that was certified by the state of Ohio in 1996, and I am thankful every single day for the decent (but by no means lavish) treatment I have received since then. More importantly, I believe a genuinely “better Ohio” would be one where all workers have some means to negotiate for decent treatment in their workplaces.
I don’t expect business owners and managers to vote for Ohio’s workers, but I do believe workers should support workers in order to improve all our lives. Please vote "No" on Issue 2.