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We Are Ohio Surpasses Signatures Needed for Referendum

We Are Ohio, a broad-based coalition of citizens and activists that wants to overturn Ohio's S.B. 5, announced June 17 that it has collected 714,137 signatures, more than triple the number needed to get a referendum on the November ballot.

The tremendous outpouring of signatures represents an important step by the citizens of Ohio to take back their government and protect their communities.

Thousands of students, parents and other citizens who traveled to Columbus in March to protest S.B. 5—which would gut collective bargaining rights for teachers and state and local government employees—were told they could not get into their own Statehouse. Now those citizens know their voices will be heard.

A referendum will give Ohio voters the chance to say no to extremist politicians who want to strip police officers, nurses, firefighters, teachers and other hard-working Ohioans of their rights and their dignity. It will also give them a chance to reject the policies of those who would silence the voices of teachers on important issues that affect teaching and learning.

The petition effort exceeded We Are Ohio's goal of collecting between 450,000 and 500,000 signatures to overturn the anti-worker, anti-education legislation pushed through by Gov. John Kasich and Republican legislators. We Are Ohio needs about 231,000 valid signatures to get the referendum on the ballot this fall.

More than 10,000 hard-working volunteers, including scores of AFT members, have been gathering signatures since late April. They have included public and private sector workers, Republicans, Democrats and Independents, small businesses owners, moms and dads, students, the clergy and many others.

Thousands more signatures are pouring in every day. The final petitions will be turned in by the June 30 deadline. [Scott Stephens]

June 17, 2011