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Ed FitzGerald, the leading Democratic candidate to run against Republican Gov. John Kasich this November, touched on the major hot button issues of Ohio labor unions when he accepted the endorsement of the Ohio United Auto Workers union today in Maumee.
Mr. FitzGerald vowed during a news conference in UAW's hall in Maumee's Arrowhead Park to veto any right-to-work bill that comes to his desk, if he's elected,
Ken Lortz, director of UAW's Region 2B, which includes Ohio and Indiana, said he was endorsing Mr. FitzGerald on behalf of the UAW's political action committee. He said the decision to endorse, and the intent to do it publicly, was discussed months ago, and the timing of today's news event was just a matter of scheduling.
In any case, the timing was convenient because it comes after the state's umbrella organization for the construction and trades unions signaled it was thinking of throwing its support behind Mr. Kasich.
The group Affiliated Construction Trades Ohio, a subsidiary of the Ohio Building and Construction Trades Council, contributed the maximum amount, $12,156 to Mr. Kasich, according to a recent campaign finance report, and nothing to Mr. FitzGerald.
Mr. FitzGerald said the vast majority of unions, including many in the construction industry, are supporting him.
"Anything like Senate Bill 5 will be vetoed if it comes to my desk," Mr. FitzGerald said, specifically vowing to veto a right-to-work bill, which has already been introduced in the General Assembly.
Mr. Kasich has said right-to-work is not part of his agenda for a second term.
"He will not give a straight answer about whether he'll sign that legislation," Mr. FitzGerald said of Mr. Kasich.
Mr. Lortz said Mr. Kasich opposed the 2009 bailout of the auto industry that helped put both General Motors and Chrysler back on profitable footing.
"When the auto industry needed a hand, Governor Kasich's response was, 'we shouldn't throw good money after bad,'" Mr. Lortz said. "It's no secret the positive effect the auto industry has had in the United States of America and right here in Ohio."
"He understands the economic struggles of working families. He himself has four children, a mortgage, and has to look to a budget to put those four children through college," Mr. Lortz said of Mr. FitzGerald, currently the Cuyahoga County executive.
Mr. Kasich was not in public office at the time of the federal government's package of loans, grants, and equity purchases that saved the domestic auto companies, and did not have a high profile in the bail-out debate. He said on a Fox News show in 2008 about a proposed bailout, "If they're not going to be viable, we shouldn't throw good money after bad." The governor's spokesman, Rob Nichols, has said that Mr. Kasich never opposed the bailout.
Chris Schrimpf, spokesman for the Ohio Republican Party, said, that under Mr. Kasich, American auto-makers have reinvested heavily in Ohio.
"Since the Governor took office 6,800 auto manufacturing jobs have been created. FitzGerald may not know it because he has been so busy running for one office after another and probably just reads whatever talking points are handed to him, but the Kasich administration has strongly supported Ford, GM, and Honda and he has traveled to Detroit multiple times to demonstrate how important the industry is to the state and to secure new investments," Mr. Schrimpf said.