By Kevin Hart
More than 11,000 teachers, education support professionals, nurses, firefighters, police officers and workers of all stripes stood shoulder to shoulder at the Columbus statehouse today to send a simple message to lawmakers – their voices and their votes are still very much intact.
The We Are Ohio rally officially kicked off the drive for a citizen veto referendum to repeal the deeply unpopular Senate Bill 5, which seeks to limit the voices and rights of public employees in the workplace.
Last month, lawmakers passed and Gov. John Kasich signed into law Senate Bill 5, despite polls showing only 41 percent of Ohioans supported the measure. The We Are Ohio coalition, which consists of groups advocating for workers’ rights, 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 necessary signatures, the bill won’t take effect unless the people of Ohio vote for it in that November election.
The Ohio Education Association, an affiliate of the National Education Association, turned its members out in force for the We Are Ohio rally.
“Today Ohio educators stood more than 3,000 strong in solidarity with our Ohio labor brothers and sisters to begin the work necessary to undo the damage done with the passing of Senate Bill 5,” said OEA President Patricia Frost-Brooks. “It was good to see Ohioans from across the state, with so many OEA members among them. We stand ready to do whatever we can to support workers rights and middle class families of Ohio.”
If you live in Ohio, OEA is recruiting petition circulators who can help with the drive to repeal Senate Bill 5. Not an Ohio resident but still want to help protect workers’ rights? Sign up to be an EducationVotes volunteer.