Now that Michigan's anti-union laws are on their way to the books, organized labor faces a couple of questions. First, locally in Michigan, whether to take on a statewide initiative to get union rights back, or whether to focus instead of trying to win back control of the legislature and the governorship, or both. Any one of those items would be a challenge. Second, at the national level, there's the question of whether any states might try to follow Michigan in stripping union rights, the way Michigan followed Indiana. Wisconsin, maybe? Kentucky? Or Ohio?
Reporters in Ohio asked Republican Governor John Kasich this week whether he had been following the developments in Michigan. I'll put the transcript after the jump. You can decide for yourself whether this is a "no" as in "no," or as in Rick Snyder. The video's from Ohio Capital Blog:
Transcript from the video:
REPORTER: Governor, have you been what's been going on up in Michigan with the right of work debate over the last few days?
KASICH: Not real closely. Look, you know, I have a very aggressive agenda for '13 and '14 that includes things like education reform, both at the university level, community college level, K through 12. We have a big change coming with our infrastructure program, tax reform, managing a lot of these businesses including fracking. And that's the agenda that I'm focused on and what I'm going to continue to be focused on.
REPORTER: If there should be a constitutional --
KASICH: That's all I've got to say.
SECOND REPORTER: Would what happens in Michigan affect Ohio competitively, if Michigan and Indiana both have Right to Work?
KASICH: I have an agenda that I think is going to benefit the state of Ohio. We are doing very well, vis-a-vis the rest of the country now, and I think if we continue to pursue the agenda I have, and the legislature has, I think we'll continue to be successful.
You might remember Governor Kasich in January warning his party off Right to Work, fresh from a citizens' repeal of bill to take union rights away from public workers. "Once in a while the shark eats you, OK?" Kasich said.
If Kasich sounds a tad cautious still, that might be because his governorship is one of six that the AFL-CIO intends to contest over the next couple of years. The list is: Florida, Michigan, Nevada, Ohio, Pennsylvania, and Wisconsin -- all states won by President Obama in 2012, but, except for Nevada, with Republican governance. At stake is whether labor claws back some power, or whether Republicans have a broad mandate in the states for anti-union economic policy designed to weaken their main political opponents. (H/t Tricia McKinney)