AFT kicks off Election 2012 bus tour in Ohio

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The AFT kicked off its "Your Vote-Your Right-Their Futures" Election 2012 bus tour Oct. 19 in Ohio. The first leg of the multistate tour, which is aimed at building excitement around re-electing President Obama and other pro-worker candidates, stopped in Cincinnati, Toledo and Cleveland.

The first stop was Oct. 19 in Cincinnati, where AFT president Randi Weingarten and executive vice president Francine Lawrence—herself a longtime AFT leader in the state—were joined by Ohio Federation of Teachers president Melissa Cropper, Cincinnati Federation of Teachers president Julie Sellers and Cincinnati Mayor Mark Mallory. The event was held in conjunction with the CFT's annual fall celebration. Many of the approximately 350 members in attendance had already spent time volunteering on the political campaign, but 70 new volunteers signed up during the celebration.

From Cincinnati, the bus headed to Toledo. The next morning, Toledo Federation of Teachers president Kevin Dalton joined the state and national AFT leaders, along with about 200 local union members and other volunteers, for a rally and labor walk to support President Obama, U.S. Sen. Sherrod Brown and other candidates.

Drawing on the theme of her Oct. 21 column in the New York Times, Weingarten told the crowd that educators recognize a binder full of bad ideas, "and Romney has a bunch of bad ideas." She also referenced S.B. 5, an anti-union law that was pushed through by Republicans in Ohio, but subsequently was reversed by a popular referendum last year. "A Romney presidency would be like S.B. 5 on steroids," Weingarten warned.

That afternoon, the bus rolled into Cleveland for another well-attended rally and labor walk. In addition to working to boost Obama and Brown, the Cleveland activities focused on building support for Issue 107, a levy for the Cleveland schools. Cleveland Mayor Frank Jackson and Cleveland Teachers Union president David Quolke, who is an AFT vice president, joined the bus. For a district that has not had a new levy in 16 years, Issue 107 would generate badly needed funds to lower class sizes and provide other resources to the city's schools.

The tour will continue Oct. 24-27 with stops across Florida, where Weingarten will be joined by AFT secretary-treasurer Lorretta Johnson. It will make a final swing through the Northeast just before Election Day. [Marcus Mrowka, Dan Gursky/video by Brett Sherman and Matthew Jones]

October 22, 2012