By FRANK LEWIS
PDT Staff Writer
For the first time in history several statewide unions and local unions have unanimously endorsed Dr. Terry Johnson for state representative.
“Laborer’s Local 83, the Laborer’s Local District Council of Ohio, and Teamster’s Local 92, are announcing that we are endorsing Dr. Terry Johnson for state representative,” Local 83 Business Manager/Secretary Treasurer Gary Coleman said Saturday morning in his office at the back of the union hall. “This is the first time in the history of this local that we have ever endorsed a Republican state rep.”
Coleman said the local unions had never talked with Johnson prior to the election to find out his views on labor issues, and they had worked hard for Johnson’s opponent, Ron Hadsell, a Democrat, in the 2010 election, raising a little more than $40,000 for his campaign. Then, after Johnson was elected and the Republicans gained control of the Ohio House of Representatives, he had to go to Johnson and lobby for labor issues, most significantly, Senate Bill 5, which Coleman described as being in opposition to the Prevailing Wage laws in Ohio.
“Here I was in a position, one of the leaders in Ron Hadsell’s campaign to defeat Terry Johnson, and now I have to go into Terry Johnson’s office and ask him to help my workers to defeat Issue 2, which they were trying to pass to do away with Prevailing Wage, and some Right To Work stuff they were working on,” Coleman said. “So we asked for a meeting and Terry Johnson walks us right in and rolls out the red carpet, and we explained to him what our issues were.”
Coleman said he told Johnson he was rather uncomfortable after working so hard to defeat him.
“And he said he didn’t care,” Coleman said. “He said he had no problem with our political beliefs before. He said his job was to represent the people in his district, and if it was the right thing he was going to vote for it. He listened to everything we said. And he said he believed that we were right, and he would support it. I was in disbelief, and I thought, that guy is a good guy. And he never once asked us for anything. He didn’t say ‘hey, don’t forget me when I run.’ He never said, ‘I want this. I want that,’ he just said it’s the right thing to do.”
Coleman said Johnson seems to understand workers and the need for jobs in the area and that the Republican party doesn’t do well in representing workers.
Johnson was one of the first legislators in the state to come out in opposition to Senate Bill 5, which became Issue 2 on the November ballot.
“He is one of the very few Republicans who crossed the line to the Democrat side and voted this anti-Prevailing Wage issue down,” Coleman said. “He went against the governor on Issue 2. This guy had to eat lunch by himself.”
Coleman said Johnson fought to keep the Ohio River Valley Juvenile Detention Center open in opposition to fellow Republican Gov. John Kasich, putting an amendment into the state budget that kept the ORV from automatically being shut down. Johnson had challenged the governor’s decision to close the facility, but ultimately Kasich stood his ground, closing the facility.
“I didn’t like what (John) Haas said. I feel like he was just trying to spin and fuzz things up,” Coleman said, defending Johnson’s vote for the state budget. Coleman said the budget was already going to pass with or without Johnson’s vote. “The Haas guy, trying to spin that, absolutely disturbs me.”
Haas recently came out to challenge Johnson in the newly-established 90th District, making his announcement at the ORV facility.
Coleman took the opportunity to compliment Ron Hadsell, also in attendance Saturday, saying he was a good candidate, and would have voted in the same way Johnson did on the key union issues.
Ironworkers Local 172 business manager Kevin Libby also announced several endorsement for Johnson, including the Ironworkers Union in Columbus.
“He’s good for labor. He has been great to work for us,” Libby said. “So we’re here to help him any way we can. This is the first time we have come out and endorsed a candidate. I’m from Ashland, Ky., but our local covers Scioto County, Lawrence County, Pike County, and the Columbus endorsement is for Ironworkers in Pike County, too. We split that county.”
“To pick up the endorsements of our local trade unions here in southern Ohio is enormous to me,” Johnson said. “If you’ve ever paid attention to what I have said, as a county coroner, and especially as state rep., I think what we need to do is pull together as a team. Management and labor need to have a co-equal position at the table. Everyone’s involved in bringing economic prosperity to our region. And we can only do that by working together. So to pick up an endorsement from labor it’s a wonderful thing, and it’s just indicative of what we have to do to turn things around here.”
Frank Lewis may be reached at 740-353-3101, ext. 232, or at email@example.com.