Yesterday, hundreds of retirees and workers alike cheered as the referendum on Ohio’s controversial collective bargaining law was officially certified for the November ballot, with tens of thousands of signatures to spare. Over 1.3 million total signatures were turned in last month to put the referendum on the November ballot to overturn Senate Bill 5's drastic actions.
In the morning, the Ohio Alliance's Norm Wernet sat on the Ohio AFL-CIO Community Allies Roundtable yesterday morning with AFL President Trumka and a wide variety of community organizations including: NAACP, Union Veterans, African American Greek Fraternal Organizations, Community for Change Ohio, A Phillip Randolph, pastors, and others. All parties present were there to talk about how and why they are fighting for economic justice through the ballot campaign to repeal Senate Bill 5, which would strip public employees of most of their collective bargaining rights.
It is a simple math, better wages and working conditions means a chance at retirement. Lower wages and benefits and unsafe working conditions mean less security and less of a chance at retirement or a life after work plays out.
Bargaining in the workplace is an American tradition part of building out our democracy. Retired trade union workers know democracy at work has to be defended for all who work. Retired workers public and private fought for those basic rights at work and SB5 moves the clock backwards.
Back in the 60’s and 70’s many public worker wages were so low that you could work 30 - 40 years and still be in poverty in old age and qualify for Aid for the Aged. I know because I took their applications in the welfare department. ... Public workers lived in or near poverty after we got too old or disabled to work.
This spring Ohio Alliance for Retired American leaders organized members and joined the repeal drive without being asked or prodded because: An injury to one is an injury to all.
If you are a steelworker, an auto worker, a chemical worker, a telephone worker, or even a public worker, we have all seen retirement security eroded by mis-management, bankruptcies, stock market manipulation and bad business deals gone wrong. Bargaining needs to be strengthened for all workers not diluted.
The bargaining law did not cause the state’s fiscal issues. The lack of work did. The People’s veto of SB5 is essential to protecting all who want to live into a life after a life of work.
The Ohio Alliance for Retired Americans, its leaders and members, are ready to engage this campaign for basic rights at work and a reasonable standard of living.
That evening, a town hall meeting in Columbus drew a large crowd who heard from AFL-CIO President Rich Trumka and Ohio AFL-CIO President Tim Burga about next steps with the referendum to repeal the anti-collective bargaining Senate Bill 5. Alliance President Barbara Easterling joined the town hall via tele-conference call which included an additional 70,000 on the line. The town hall event kicked off the campaign to defeat the statewide assault on civil rights at the polls in November. Easterling said, “Our Ohio chapter has over 270,000 members and nearly 100 groups, and we will do everything we can between now and November.”
Photos: Norm Wernet from town hall in Columbus. Top: 3 Akron retirees; Bottom: Retired Steelworkers from Columbus