According to the Ohio Department of Administrative Services (DAS), Ohio had 40,516 bargaining unit employees working for the state in January, 2011 ,when John Kasich first took office. As of July, 2014, three and a half years later, we are down to 35,868. That’s a loss of 4,648 union jobs – or 8.6%! Nearly half – 2,318 in total – were corrections/prison-related positions.
Some of these losses came when the Kasich administration privatized Ohio’s prison food service. Kasich pitched the idea as a way to save the state money, but the contract with Aramark to provide meals to Ohio’s inmates has ended up causing nothing but problems as the company’s low-paid, poorly-trained workers have failed to show up for work, been caught having sex with the inmates and, again and again, can’t keep maggots out of the food.
Just this week, nearly 1,000 inmates at a women’s prison in Ohio dumped their lunches in the trash after they heard those pesky maggots had again been discovered in food preparation areas. The growing number of incidents involving fly larvae are part of a larger problem with Aramark’s performance. An investigation by the AP found at least 116 incidents where Aramark “has fallen short by running out of food or providing unapproved substitutes” in Ohio’s prisons since Aramark has been in charge of food service.
We’re lucky this week’s incident did not result in larger security issue. One of these days, a small scale act of disobedience at a women’s prison is going to be overshadowed by a large scale riot, putting inmates, staff and food service workers in danger. The clock is ticking.
When asked about the growing list of problems at Ohio’s prisons, Ohio Republican Party Spokesperson Chris Shrimpf providing a snarky response saying Ohioans “should simply say thank you” to Kasich because he saved a few bucks by replacing high-quality, experienced state workers with poorly-trained, private staff. Shrimpf’s implication is that John Kasich needed to make Ohio’s prisons less safe for financial reasons – which is completely false. Someone needs to remind Schrimpf that Kasich has actually increased state spending by over $10 Billion since he’s been in office!
At the local level, Kasich’s cuts to the local government fund have resulted in over 25,000 job losses including teachers, police officers and fire fighters.
There is a reason the unions representing Ohio’s fire fighters, police officers and corrections officers all failed to endorse John Kasich. Kasich has spent more money than any other Governor in Ohio history while overseeing the loss of tens of thousands of state and local jobs, including thousands of public safety jobs, putting Ohioans at risk.