November 8, 2011
"In Ohio, the middle class won big."
Statement by Randi Weingarten,
President of the American Federation of Teachers,
On the Repeal of Ohio Senate Bill 5
WASHINGTON—The citizens of Ohio took back their state tonight. The repeal of Senate Bill 5 was a victory for every teacher who helps a struggling child, every firefighter who races into a burning building, every snowplow operator who ensures safe travel for others, and every community that relies on these vital public services. Ohioans said loud and clear that they would not turn their backs on the people who watch theirs. The historic citizens' veto was a victory for all Ohioans, and for all Americans who care about democracy and fair play.
All over our nation tonight, firefighters, teaches, nurses, bus drivers, bridge inspectors and social workers are cheering because in Ohio, the middle class won big. The vote sends a clear signal that Ohioans will not sit idly by while politicians scapegoat hard-working public employees for an economic crisis they did not create. Those who would dare try to strip collective bargaining rights away from hard-working citizens will now think twice. Ohio voters made it clear to them that there is a price to pay for turning your back on the middle class.
The repeal of Senate Bill 5 resulted from an incredible grass-roots campaign that engaged citizens from all corners of the state. More than 10,000 volunteers collected 1.3 million signatures to place Issue 2 on the ballot, and then worked tirelessly to make sure their families, friends and neighbors understood what was at stake. These volunteers knew that when teachers have a voice in the workplace, they are better advocates for children. They knew that families are healthier when nurses can speak out for better care and more staffing. And they knew that their communities are safer when firefighters and police officers have a say when it comes to staffing to reduce response times or obtaining needed safety equipment like defibrillators.
It's now time for all Ohioans to work together to address the challenges that lie ahead: providing all our children a great education, rebuilding our infrastructure and putting our people back to work.
Follow AFT President Randi Weingarten at twitter.com/rweingarten.
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The AFT represents 1.5 million pre-K through 12th-grade teachers; paraprofessionals and other school-related personnel; higher education faculty and professional staff; federal, state and local government employees; nurses and healthcare workers; and early childhood educators.