Unions extract political payback in Ohio

A public employees' union that plowed millions into Democratic campaigns last year helped write a governor's executive order that has since allowed it to organize thousands of home health workers paid through state programs.

Similar orders have been signed in three other states - Illinois, Iowa and Michigan - also led by Democratic governors.

Staffers of Ohio Gov. Ted Strickland, including his top lawyer, were coordinating efforts with the Service Employees International Union as they were writing the order, according to documents obtained by The Associated Press through a public records request. Strickland's chief of staff, John Haseley, also had an e-mail from the union's regional political director, Gloria Fauss, asking for the latest draft.

Home health care workers covered by Strickland's order voted for SEIU representation late last month. The state is scheduled to begin negotiating their contract in February.

AFSCME, another public employee union generous to Democrats, was also included in the drafting process, records show. It asked for the order to apply to child care workers. The administration opted not to combine the two issues, but Strickland has said he intends to sign a second order regarding child care workers in the coming months.

SEIU donated $90,000 to Strickland's gubernatorial campaign last year, a portion of the $2 million it has given statewide to Democratic party committees and candidates since last year, campaign finance records show. AFSCME has given just more than $76,000 to Democratic candidates and committees since last year, including about $6,000 from its political action committee and executives to Strickland's campaign.


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