By Cynthia McCabe
It’s been a tumultuous 24 hours in Ohio, marked by public workers rallying at the statehouse, the speaker of the house insulting those protesters and Gov. John Kasich about to sign an unpopular law into effect as his own approval rating sits at a less-than-adequate 30-percent.
And it’s not over yet. Kasich will sign into law tonight SB5, a measure weakening the rights of roughly 360,000 public servants, including teachers and education support professionals. But that signature will be just one against hundreds of thousands that will be collected in the weeks to come by supporters of Ohio workers seeking to refer the measure to a ballot referendum.
The Columbus Dispatch described the anger of those gathered Wednesday to watch Republican representatives pass a bill that they felt in no way represented their will:
Both the House and Senate worked through an almost unheard-of amount of applause, boos and shouts of “shame on you” from pro-union crowds that packed the chambers and made sure lawmakers understood the magnitude of their votes.
As the protesters made their voices heard and were removed from the public chamber, House Speaker William Batchelder (R-Medina) remarked into an open microphone, “Now that the intellectuals have left the chamber…”
In a message to her members, Ohio Education Association President Patricia Frost-Brooks called the bill’s passage a “final stamp of approval on an attempt to silence your voice as an advocate for Ohio’s children.”
She said SB5 was “a clear attempt to gut the ability of educators, nurses, firefighters, police and all public employees to have a voice on the job,” adding that it “does nothing to create jobs and instead gives politicians free reign to cut public education in Ohio.”
Last week, a Quinnipiac Poll indicated that only 41 percent of Ohioans surveyed approved of a bill limiting collective bargaining. That same poll was the one indicating that Kasich’s approval rate sits at 30 percent.
After the House and Senate passed SB5, Kasich acknowledged the displeasure from his own constituents, “There are a lot of people upset, and we respect that. But I think they’re going to find out at the end of the day we’ll have stronger communities.”
Ohioans who have rallied at the statehouse for weeks in opposition to the bill silencing workers’ voices were not impressed. They’ve pledged to collect more than 230,000 signatures to get the matter on the November ballot and overturn the law. If they can secure the signatures within the next 90 days, the bill won’t take effect unless the people of Ohio vote for it in that November election.
You can make a difference in this fight! If you are in Ohio, mark your calendars for April 9, when there will be a referendum kick-off rally at the statehouse. And sign up now as an online volunteer on EducationVotes.org, then go grab five colleagues to do the same!