By Joshua Benton
Blade Columbus Bureau
COLUMBUS — With a statewide referendum on workers’ compensation law going before the voters in only 11 days, supporters of Issue 2 have far outraised and outspent their opponents.
Through Oct. 15, Keep Ohio Working – a business-backed committee that supports the issue’s passage – had raised more than $4.8 million and spent $3.2 million.
The Committee to Stop Corporate Attacks on Injured Workers – the name of the labor-lawyer coalition that fueled the petition drive to put Issue 2 on the ballot and is the issue’s major opponent – had raised only $2.3 million and spent $1.2 million.
Campaign finance reports, filed by yesterday’s deadline, show that fund-raising for Issue 2 has been a battle between highly funded special interest groups – large corporations and insurers supporting the issue, trial lawyers and labor unions opposing it.
If passed, Issue 2 would limit employees’ eligibility for certain types of compensation for workplace injuries.
A bill enacting those changes was passed by the General Assembly this summer, but labor groups gathered enough signatures on petitions to force a referendum on the measure, the first in Ohio since 1939.
Corporations giving to Keep Ohio Working are a “who’s who” of the state’s businesses.
Chrysler, Goodyear, Nationwide Insurance, B.F. Goodrich, and The Limited each gave $100,000 to the campaign.
Kroger, Rubbermaid, Mead, AEP, and Honda each gave more than $25,000.
The two largest donations came from pro-business groups.
The largest single donation, by far, was made by the Ohio Manufacturers’ Association, which gave $500,000.
The Ohio Chamber of Commerce, in two donations, gave a total of $350,000.
From the Toledo area, the biggest donor supporting Issue 2 was Dana Corp., which gave $50,000. Cooper Tire & Rubber, of Findlay, gave $10,000 and The Andersons, Inc., of Maumee, gave $5,000.
Nearly all of the largest givers to the issue’s opposition were labor unions or trial lawyers.
The largest contributor was the Ohio AFL-CIO, which gave a total of almost $688,000 in 13 separate donations.
The Ohio Academy of Trial Lawyers gave $97,500, and individual lawyers from as far away as Seattle and Rhode Island gave thousands more.
Among Toledo donors, United Auto Workers Local 12 gave $33,720.
The law firm of Fell, Marcus, and Koder gave $12,000.