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PORTSIDELABOR  June 2011, Week 5

PORTSIDELABOR June 2011, Week 5

Subject:

Democracy is Coming to Ohio: 1.3 Million Voters Force Referendum to Restore Labor Rights

From:

Portside Labor <[log in to unmask]>

Reply-To:

[log in to unmask]

Date:

Wed, 29 Jun 2011 20:01:44 -0400

Content-Type:

text/plain

Parts/Attachments:

Parts/Attachments

text/plain (123 lines)

Democracy is Coming to Ohio: 1.3 Million Voters Force
Referendum to Restore Labor Rights
John Nichols
June 29, 2011  
http://www.thenation.com/blog/161746/democracy-coming-ohio-13-million-voters-force-referendum-restore-labor-rights

Opponents of Ohio Governor John Kasich's push to strip
public employees of collective bargaining rights--as part
of a national push by newly-elected Republican governors
to silence opposition to their cuts in funding for
public education and services -- needed to collect
231,000 valid signatures to force a referendum that
would override anti-labor legislation enacted by Kasich
and his allies.

That was a tall order. But the labor and community
groups that have come together to defend public
employees, teachers, schools and services have exceeded
it --by more than one million signatures.

With petitions carrying 1,298,301 signatures packed in
1,500 boxes carried by a semi-truck,  organizers of the
"We Are Ohio" campaign and thousands of their allies
marched to the Ohio Secretary of State's Office in
Columbus Wednesday -- one day before the deadline--to file
the paperwork necessary to force a November vote on 
overturning Ohio Senate Bill 5 and Kasich's attack on
labor rights.

"We stood at the Statehouse today where thousands of
hardworking Ohioans stood earlier this year protesting
SB 5.," declared We Are Ohio's Melissa. "While their
voices were drowned out by the extreme politicians who
decided to pass SB 5, today We Are Ohio wants (to) let
them know their voices will be heard."

Wednesday's festive "Million Signature March"--complete
with bagpipes, drum lines and antique fire truck blaring
their sirens offered a taste of what is to come in a
referendum campaign that labor leaders say will be the
most energetic the state has seen in decades--perhaps
since the famous 1958 referendum in which historically
Republican Ohio rejected an anti-labor "right-to-work"
law and swept Democrats into the governorship and other
state posts.

If this fall's referendum passes, as polls suggest it
will, the actions of Kasich and the legislature will be
voided and collective bargaining rights will be restored
for state, county and municipal employees and teachers.

The stunning success of the Ohio petition drive
parallels the pushback in states across the country,
where citizens have refused to accept the assaults on
labor rights, public services and public education
proposed by newly-elected Republican governors and their
legislative allies.

After last November's election victories for Republicans
in states such as Ohio, Wisconsin, Michigan, Florida and
Maine, new governors and legislative majorities moved
quickly to enact a dramatically more extreme agenda than
they ran on during the 2010 campaign. At the heart of
that agenda has been an attack on labor rights and labor
organizations --with an eye toward silencing unions in
the workplace and the political sphere, where they
remain the strongest defenders of public education and
public services.

The Republicans moved quickly because they wanted to use
the element of surprise against a battered opposition
--and because they wanted to weaken labor in battleground
states before the 2012 presidential and congressional
elections.

But the anti-labor push met with fierce opposition,
first in Wisconsin, where Governor Scott Walker's
proposed legislation drew mass demonstrations of as many
as 150,000 people outside the state capitol in Madison.
The demonstrations in Lansing, Indianapolis, Columbus
and other capital cities quickly grew in size. But so,
too, did the recognition that electoral strategies would
need to be coupled with the protests.

In Wisconsin, tens of thousands of signatures were
gathered in petition drives that have forced recall
elections against six Republican senators who backed
Walker's agenda. Primary elections associated with those
recalls will begin July 12, with the runoff elections in
August. If three GOP senators are removed (and if three
Democratic senators who have been targeted by
Republicans retain their seats), control of the state
Senate will flip to the Democrats and Walker will no
longer have complete control of the governing process.

Ohio does not have a recall provision. But it does allow
citizens to force a vote on legislation recently passed
by the legislature.  The Ohio petition drive, which
began a statewide phenomenon, has yielded the largest
number of signatures ever gathered in the state's
history. In fact, the almost 1.3 million signatures
filed Wednesday represents one of the most remarkable
examples of petitioning for the redress of
grievances--and of popular democracy--in American history.

____________________________________________

PortsideLabor aims to provide material of interest to
people on the left that will help them to interpret the
world and to change it.

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