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Ohio Law Limiting Unions Is Headed for Repeal, Poll Says

Opposition to Ohio’s law limiting collective bargaining for public employees is increasing as a Nov. 8 referendum on the measure approaches, a Quinnipiac University poll showed.

Fifty-seven percent of voters would repeal the law known as Senate Bill 5, which first-term Republican Governor John Kasich signed in March, compared with 32 percent who would keep it, according to results released today. The margin of difference has almost doubled from 13 percentage points in a survey last month, according to the poll released today.

The law is opposed by a majority of men and women, blacks and whites, voters with and without college degrees and those in union and non-union households, the poll found. Only Republicans support the law among the demographic groups surveyed, according to the poll.

“Anything is possible in politics, but with such across- the-board support for repealing SB 5, the governor and his team can’t be optimistic about the fate of their law,” Peter A. Brown, assistant director of the Quinnipiac University Polling Institute in Hamden, Connecticut, said in a release.

The law allows public employees to bargain only for wages, hours and working conditions, bans strikes and requires workers to pay at least 15 percent of their health-insurance premiums and 10 percent of their wages for pensions. The law is on hold pending the Nov. 8 vote.

Dueling Interest Groups

Kasich said today that he hasn’t given up trying to convince voters that the law is needed to help local governments control their costs.

“If I’m in a golf game and I’m down six holes with seven to play, I try to play harder,” Kasich told reporters after a speech in Columbus. “You just work as hard you can, try to explain it. You don’t quit.”

Kasich, 59, was elected in 2010 vowing to fix an economy that lost 610,000 jobs during the previous decade, the most besides Michigan and California. A former nine-term congressman and investment banker at Lehman Brothers Holdings Inc. until the firm’s collapse in 2008, he hosted “Heartland with John Kasich” on Fox News from 2001 to 2007.

Presidential candidate Mitt Romney was in Cincinnati today meeting with Republican volunteers. Romney encouraged workers making calls to voters about the referendum, Chris Maloney, a state party spokesman, said by telephone.

Message Received

Opponents of the law, including We Are Ohio, a coalition backing repeal, are emphasizing the inability of police, firefighters and nurses to negotiate for staffing levels. Kasich and Building a Better Ohio, the group supporting the measure, are focusing on the message that public employees should contribute more for benefits compared with what workers in private industry pay.

In the Quinnipiac poll, voters said they support requiring government employees to pay more toward health care and pensions and oppose banning them from striking and bargaining over insurance.

The results show that Ohioans understand the need to repeal the law, and the enthusiasm and motivation of opponents “is at an all-time high,” Melissa Fazekas, a spokeswoman for We Are Ohio, said in a statement.

Polling that asks voters about the issue using the wording that will appear on the ballot shows a much closer race, and “we continue to make progress when the facts are compared side- by-side,” Jason Mauk, a spokesman for Building a Better Ohio, said in a statement.

The survey of 1,668 registered voters by land lines and mobile phones was conducted Oct. 17-23 and had a margin of error of plus or minus 2.4 percentage points, the university said.

To contact the reporter on this story: Mark Niquette in Columbus, Ohio, at mniquette@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Mark Tannenbaum at mtannen@bloomberg.net

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