On the same day that Ohio Governor Kasich signed the vicious anti-labor bill, SB 5, Ohio’s labor movement announced the formation of a huge coalition to put that legislation on the ballot in November, and defeat it! While Kasich was preparing to sign SB 5, a massive crowd of angry workers took over the legislative rooms, shutting those chambers down for business. For over an hour, chants of “Kill the Bill,” “This is what Democracy looks like,” & “Kasich—Get Out” echoed thru the legislative chambers.

Signing of the bill, if anything, has increased the anger and militancy of unionists in the state. Instead of pessimism, labor and allies were holding mass meeting across the state, calling for the bill’s defeat. A rousing town hall meeting at the IBEW hall, legislators and labor called for a fightback against SB 5.

“We will deal a setback to the wealthy elitists who’ve taken over our state,” Ohio AFL-CIO President Tim Burga told the crowd. “We’ve been given a tremendous opportunity to educate the public on the fact that unions created the middle class, public education and eight hour day, child labor laws and a decent living standard for working living. It will be a tough, difficult fight,” Burga shouted, “but it’s a fight that, with our friends and allies, we WILL win!”

Burga announced the formation of the a wide new coalition, of labor, faith, community, women, youth and African American organizations, “We Are Ohio,” that will begin immediately to take out referendum petitions to put SB 5 on the November ballot and work to defeat the bill!

The town hall meeting, one of many being organized by Democrats opposed to SB 5, was sponsored by five central Ohio legislators; Michael Stinziano, Tracy Heard, Carlton Weddington, Nancy Garland & Ted Celeste. These reps are also part of a newly formed Progressive Caucus in the Ohio legislature.

“There was another Celeste present 28 years ago when the collective bargaining bill was signed,” rep Celeste told the crowd. “That was Governor Celeste, and it makes me that much more proud to state that I voted NO on this backward attack on Ohio’s working families!”

` Nancy Garland spoke of the “total disrespect” showed by Republicans to working families by this bill. “They talk about jobs, jobs, but since the GOP took over not a single job has been created. The top 1% now have more wealth in Ohio than the bottom 78%, but they’ve passed five new anti-abortion bills, a bill restricting the right to vote, sent back the funds that would’ve created a rail system and thousands of new, good jobs and now this abomination,” she said.

Rep Weddington spoke of the GOP’s fascination with guns. “They now want to make it legal to carry guns into bars,” he said. “The only jobs that will create are for undertakers!”

The packed crowd all had ‘Kill 5’ stickers on. There was a nearly unanimous response to the call from the stage to sign up for Action Teams to work to repeal the bill.

Rep. Tracy Heard, a former UAW member, spoke of the “disgusting, cowardly behavior of the Republicans.”

“SB 5 hurts widows, wiping out survivor benefits. It hurts community safety and kills funds for poor folks and communities. It is an attack on all not in the top 1%,” she said.

“This jerk, Gonzalez, (GOP rep) actually told the workers to ‘quit whining and get a job! Then comes over and wants to talk with me about my new shoes. That’s an insult! I told them that ‘there’s no girl-talk’ here, when you hurt all the people I know and represent,” stated Heard!

We Are Ohio expects to have petitions out and in the hands of the public by the end of April.

A series of events were announced for April 4, in commemoration of ML King’s birthday, and supporting the drive against SB 5.