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SB5 Repeal Backers Pound the Pavement in Ohio



June 6, 2011

COLUMBUS, Ohio - It's crunch time for opponents of Ohio's controversial collective bargaining law, Senate Bill 5, and they continue to pound the pavement as they circulate petitions to repeal the law. It would weaken collective bargaining power for the state's 360,000 public workers.

Melissa Fazekas, speaking for the We are Ohio coalition, says there are more than 10,000 volunteers on the ground.

"We're seeing an unprecedented level of support. It's really a citizen-driven, community-based coalition that's come together to repeal Senate Bill 5, which we believe is an unfair attack on employee rights and worker safety."

The coalition needs to collect over 231,000 valid signatures to get a referendum on the November ballot. Fazekas says that so far they've collected more than 214,000.

Retired school teacher Jeff Bunck, who lives near Toledo, has been circulating petitions to repeal SB 5 for the past few weeks, and says he's astonished by the support he's seen.

"I took it to a meeting I was at the other day and I asked one person and the next thing you know they're standing in line waiting to sign the thing. And I just smiled. I said this is amazing; this is true democracy in action."

A recent Quinnipiac Poll found that registered voters, by a margin of 54 percent to 36 percent, would vote down Senate Bill 5. Bunck says he's not surprised.

"Voters have a right to look at the state legislature's actions and to say 'yes' or 'no' to them on very important issues. You're talking hundreds of thousands of employees and their families who are going to be affected by this, and it's not fair."

Supporters of SB 5, including Governor John Kasich and other Republican leaders, say it includes reforms that give state and local governments the ability to better manage their budgets. They've launched a committee to promote the benefits of the law.

Mary Kuhlman, Public News Service - OH