The passage of SB5 in Ohio triggered a 90-day period where opponents could gather signatures to force a referendum, a “citizen veto” of the law, in November. The law does not take effect until the results of that referendum. Labor and progressive activists immediately went to work to try and overturn the law, which would severely limit collective bargaining rights in the state, eliminate the right to strike and even hit public safety positions like police and firefighters.
The anti-SB 5 coalition We Are Ohio announced today that in the first 30 days, they are at 93% of their target of 231,149 valid signatures.
“We are pleased to report 214,399 signatures have been collected in the first month,” said Melissa Fazekas, spokeswoman for We Are Ohio. “The unprecedented level of support from communities all across the state is staggering. While we continue to struggle to keep up with demand for petitions, we know this campaign is a marathon, not a sprint. We believe these early numbers will only serve to motivate our supporters to collect more signatures to ensure we reach the threshold of 231,149 valid signatures.”
We Are Ohio also shared three personal stories from the ground about Ohioans gathering signatures in Cleveland, Columbus and Wooster. In Cleveland, a man who has a hot dog cart and sells hot dogs in downtown Cleveland is also asking his customers to sign the petition to protect workers’ rights. In Columbus a school teacher signed up nearly 700 people at the Race for the Cure, adding to the nearly 4,000 total signatures she has personally collected. And, in Wooster more than 700 people signed the petition at a drive thru event.
We Are Ohio claims nearly 10,000 volunteers gathering signatures across the state. They have until June 30 to finish the signature gathering, and at this rate they should be able to reach the threshold for a referendum with relative ease. That would happen this November, coinciding with municipal elections in Ohio. Every local official would have to answer questions about whether they support the right to organize and collectively bargain. This could lead to a sea change at the local level in Ohio.
A Quinnipiac poll on SB 5 shows majority support for repealing the anti-union law. Ohioans support repeal by a 54-36 margin.
To relate this to my previous post, you can see why labor will be more active in the states than at the national level for the next year or so.