Ohioans Mobilize as Ballot Initiative Moves Forward

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Columbus Rally, OH, participant, Photo by Alysia Burton Opponents have until the end of June to gather at least 231,149 signatures of registered voters to get the referendum on the ballot. S.B. 5 guts the collective bargaining rights of teachers, firefighters, police officers and other public employees. Since the law's passage, concerned Ohioans have turned out in cities statewide to protest the unfair attacks on workers' rights. Union members, parents, faith leaders, community activists and others are mobilizing around the "We Are Ohio" campaign for the ballot initiative.

A new poll shows that if the measure to repeal S.B. 5 were on the ballot today, it would pass easily. The consulting firm Wenzel Strategies found that 51 percent of the people they polled said they favor repeal, compared with 38 percent who said they would vote to keep the new law in place. Independents, in particular, favor repeal.

2010 Ohio Teacher of the Year, Natalie Wester, at Columbus Rally, OH. Photo by Alysia Burton. 

The legislation is an affront to hard-working Ohioans and their families; it's particularly harmful to children, because it gives their teachers less say in class size and other professional issues that affect teaching and learning. "The people of Ohio are on our side, and we believe the citizens will veto S.B. 5 in November," says Ohio Federation of Teachers president Sue Taylor. "The growing groundswell of opposition from the general public in recent weeks has been massive and impressive. ... Voters understand this is an all-out attack on workers' rights that will harm families and cause our communities to crumble."


Several Ohio mayors have been openly critical of the legislation signed by Kasich, citing the effect it will have on public employees and the state's middle-class families. "The impact it will have on the employees' quality of life and standard of living will be significant," Cleveland Mayor Frank Jackson told the Plain Dealer. "Even though it saves me money, I'm not looking to be happy off their backs."

More information on what's happening in Ohio is available on the AFT website. [Roger Glass, Dan Gursky, Plain Dealer. Photos by Alysia Burton]

April 15, 2011