On November 8, Ohio voters resoundingly overturned the anti-worker agenda pushed by Governor John Kasich (R) and the right-wing state legislature. An extraordinary grassroots effort led by the labor movement resulted in the defeat of Issue 2/Senate Bill 5 by a remarkable 61-39 margin.
Senate Bill 5, rammed through the legislature earlier in the year, would have eliminated the collective bargaining rights of some 350,000 public employees including teachers, nurses, police officers and fire fighters, jeopardized the public safety of Ohioans and dealt another body blow to middle class families.
BCTGM International staff, local union officers and members across the state were a key part of the labor team that was so effective in defeating Issue 2. BCTGM International President Hurt assigned two International staff members, Vice President Mike Konesko and Representative John Price, to work full-time as campaign coordinators because of the importance of the campaign to the entire labor movement.
“I am extremely proud of the pivotal role that the BCTGM played in this historic victory for organized labor and working families. Our local unions and members across the state responded forcefully when called upon to gather signatures, phone bank, handbill, go door-to-door and do whatever was necessary to get the job done,” Hurt explained.
AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka, who joined working families in phone banking and canvassing said Issue 2’s defeat “is a major victory for working families in Ohio and across the country.”
“Ohio’s working people successfully fought back against lies pushed by shadowy multi-national corporations and their anonymous front groups that attempted to scapegoat public service employees and everyone they serve by assaulting collective bargaining rights,” said Tumka.
After the Ohio legislature rammed the law through in late March — ignoring an outpouring of public opposition, including demonstrations that brought thousands to the state Capitol in Columbus — Ohio working families began a massive mobilization to repeal the law.
BCTGM members throughout Ohio were among those who helped collect more than 1.3 million signatures to put S.B. 5 repeal on the ballot. With polls showing growing support for repeal and a rapidly shrinking approval rating, Kasich even offered a so-called compromise in August. But working families rejected the deal and continued the fight for full repeal.
As the election drew near, unions and community groups knocked on doors, made phone calls and distributed literature around the state. In the weekend before the election, volunteers knocked on more than 450,000 doors.
But while activists from dozens of states as far away as Alaska gave up their nights and weekends to call Ohio voters from home to get out the vote, S.B. 5 supporters turned to out-of-state money from extremist groups for misleading, and at times downright false, TV ads and dirty tricks.
For example, in October, Cincinnati great-grandmother Marlene Quinn— whose family was saved by firefighters— was featured in a We Are Ohio TV ad urging a “No” vote on Issue 2. But shortly after, one of the right-wing groups backing Issue 2 pirated footage for their own ad and doctored Quinn’s words to make it seem as if she was endorsing Issue 2.
On election day, some voters received “robo calls,” telling them Election Day was “tomorrow.” Read more on voter suppression and voter manipulation attempts here.
But all of the lies, distortions and tainted money could not overcome the truth and the common sense decency of Ohioans.