From AAUP-UC’s perspective, the election in Ohio was disappointing. AAUP-UC endorsed Rich Cordray for governor and Betty Sutton for lieutenant governor. We believed that they would have stopped the frequent attacks on public sector collective bargaining in Ohio. Equally important, we hoped that they would bring a fresh perspective on the role and significance of higher education in Ohio.
With Cordray and Sutton’s defeat, the Republican Party will continue to control the governor’s office and the both legislative houses. They have not been friendly to public sector employees or to higher education in the recent past. (Click HERE for the OCAAUP’s 2018 report on the status of higher education in Ohio.) The lame duck legislature has already introduced legislation that would build on the Supreme Court’s Janus decision and threaten a union’s right to exclusively represent employees. This is another attempt to weaken unions. We hope that this legislation will not move out of committee, but we will be monitoring the situation closely.
The AAUP, working with the OCAAUP, does hope to work with incoming governor Mike DeWine and his administration. He has begun his tenure with a more conciliatory tone than his predecessor. (You will recall that one of John Kasich’s first acts as governor was signing SB #5, which would have eliminated most of public sector employees’ rights to collectively bargain.) In short, we will hope for the best, while preparing for the worst. If necessary, and as we have done in the past, AAUP-UC we will work with AAUP chapters and allies across the state to defeat legislation that targets faculty or negatively impacts students. Our track record to date has been impressive, as we collectively have defeated efforts to reduce sick-time, curtail tenure, charge faculty to use their own textbooks, and, of course, repeated efforts to curtail faculty from bargaining collectively.
There were a few reasons for optimism on Election Day. AAUP-UC endorsed candidates Representative Brigid Kelly (representing the uptown campus) and State School Board Member Pat Bruns were reelected. Representative Fred Strahorn, another AAUP-UC endorsed candidate and the minority leader in the house, was reelected. His Democratic caucus is expected to pick up five to eight seats after all the votes are tallied.
Moving forward, it is hoped that reforms passed by voters to curb gerrymandering will be effective and make Ohio elections more competitive moving forward. (Here is an interesting article from The Cleveland Plain dealer on the reforms to curtail gerrymandering and their impact on Ohio politics moving forward.) Finally, I note that Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker, who launched an unprecedented assault on both public sector unions and higher education was defeated.
I remain optimistic and look forward to continuing to work with you to move higher education forward in Ohio.