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Labor Loses Big In Ohio Labor Loses Big In Ohio

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Labor Loses Big In Ohio

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Barb Phillips, a school bus driver, yells while protestering against Senate Bill 5 during a rally against a pending budget bill inside the Ohio Statehouse February 22, 2011 in Columbus, Ohio. Supporters against Senate Bill 5 say it will serve as a 'union buster,' forcing state employees to give up collective bargaining rights and pay more for health care and pensions. Ohio Governor John Kasich has said the bill is needed to balance the growing deficit and to show accountability to the taxpayer's money. (Photo by J.D. Pooley/Getty Images)(J.D. Pooley/Getty Images)

Ohio Gov. John Kasich (R) owes his Wisconsin gubernatorial colleague Scott Walker (R) some serious gratitude. While nearly all the media attention and labor activism has been centered in Madison over Walker's controversial budget bill, Kasich is on the verge of passing an equally significant bill restraining collective bargaining rights in the Buckeye State.

The bill passed the state Senate by the narrowest possible margin - and now is virtually assured of being signed into law by the governor next week. It's awfully similar to the legislation Walker has struggled to pass, in a more politically-consequential state for the 2012 presidential battle. The bill would make Ohio the first state to strip collective bargaining rights from public employees.

Ohio is a labor stronghold and union political clout has been central to Democratic successes there - without the same level of union money and organization, Democrats would have a much tougher time carrying it in the upcoming presidential election. It's also home to what should be a hotly-contested Senate race, with Sen. Sherrod Brown (D) seeking a second term.

The fact that Kasich beat Walker to the punch has a lot to do with the inordinate attention the Wisconsin governor is receiving - at least compared to the legislative battle in Columbus. But if this is the first victory of many Republican battles against big labor to come, Kasich will soon be outshining Walker in GOP circles for a long time to come.

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