Ask a Democrat what effect the tug-of-war between the union representing faculty at Youngstown State University and the administration could have on the fate of Issue 2 (commonly known as Senate Bill 5 or SB 5) and you'll get these responses: Ohio's current collective bargaining law works and those opposed to changing it are bolstered by the situation, using it as motivation to work even harder to have the changes shot down on Nov. 8.
Now, ask a Republican - the situation at YSU reinforces the need for changes to the law, put into place in 1983. Republicans too say the struggle between faculty and the administration to come to a contract agreement bolster their position as they try to convince voters to support the on-hold changes.
''We got a first-hand look at just how destructive a public sector strike could be in a case like this,'' said Mahoning County GOP chairman Mark Munroe. ''Had the faculty gone on strike, it would have been destructive and disruptive to so many students.''
Munroe said a strike could have delayed graduations or resulted in students missing opportunities for employment.
''The average voter has very little sympathy for a well-paid YSU professor walking the picket line who thinks they are automatically entitled to a good chunk of the tuition increase that the students just had to eat,'' Munroe said.
Mahoning County Democratic Party chairman David Betras: The union accepted a concessionary contract because they recognized doing so was in the best interest of all and put the well-being of students first by choosing to reject the university's last and best offer and going back to work after agreeing to strike.
''I doubt that this situation will have a negative impact on our effort to repeal SB5. Let's face it, those who support the destruction of collective bargaining rights will do so no matter how many concessions the union makes because SB5 is not about saving money - it's about eviscerating organized labor,'' Betras wrote in an email.
Betras wrote people committed to repealing the law are motivated even more now because of the YSU situation. It shows the public, he said, what will happen if workers are stripped of collective bargaining protections. ''Far from a negative, what's happened will serve as a rallying cry here and across Ohio,'' he wrote.
The situation buttresses the arguments on both sides, but which side is better at political gamesmanship?
Certainly, there's enough ammunition to argue their cases.
The union accepted a concessionary fact finders report calling for no increase in wages the first year and then increases of 1 and 2 percent in years two and three, plus a provision for employees to pay a health care contribution of 15 percent.
The administration rejected the report, presenting last week what it called its last and best offer of an increase in base salary of 2 percent in the last year. They also were seeking a reduction in summer school pay and increased health care contributions, topping at 15 percent in the third year. The faculty rejected that offer.
Salaries for faculty range from $39,832 to $161,321 (the average is $72,213) and for summer school this year, 53 faculty members were paid $15,000 to $20,000; 26 between $20,000 and $25,000; 13 between $25,000 and $30,000; and seven more than $30,000.
The union says the administration's offer would cost them $5,000 and $10,000 over the three years. The administration disagrees, saying it would cost about $1,000.