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Published: Saturday, 9/6/2008

Avoiding a ballot fight

THE decision by labor groups to set aside a ballot issue that would have mandated paid sick leave for workers of some businesses is a victory for Gov. Ted Strickland and the state.

The last thing Ohio s economy needed was a needless confrontation between labor and business in the heat of a presidential election campaign.

Thanks to cool heads and the persistence of the governor, who wanted to avoid an election fight that would hurt Ohio s image as a place to do business, members of Ohioans for Healthy Families, a coalition of more than 150 organizations that had conducted a petition drive to put the proposal on the Nov. 4 ballot, will ask the secretary of state to pull the measure.

Advocates of the plan wisely decided instead to back a federal sick leave mandate that is pending in Congress. Sen. Sherrod Brown is co-sponsor of sick-leave legislation which already has the support of Democratic presidential nominee Barack Obama.

Such a tactic makes more sense. Had the issue been approved, Ohio would have been the only state with a sick-leave law, putting businesses here at a comparative disadvantage. A federal law would level the playing field nationwide, and both Senator Brown and Governor Strickland pledged to campaign to get it passed.

The fight over the issue had pitted the Democratic governor and the Republican-oriented business community in an unusual alliance against the labor groups. Mr. Strickland attempted to push a compromise through the General Assembly and, when that failed, redoubled his efforts to scuttle the ballot issue.

We don t know what deal the governor might have made to accomplish his goal, but the favorable outcome is a tribute to Mr. Strickland s considerable negotiating skills and it s good for Ohio.

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