“We can realistically reach a million signatures against SB 5 with the mobilization we’ve put together now,” stated John Parker, Regional Field Director for the We Are Ohio coalition. “This is a goal that will build momentum into the November election. It will show everyone that the union, community coalition can and will have the horses to reverse SB 5 and gain justice for Ohio’s working families.”

Parker was speaking to union and community supporters at the Carpenters Union Hall in Columbus, preparing for the final run to the poll in the drive against SB 5, the legislation passed by the GOP legislative majority to wipe out collective bargaining rights in the state. Petitioning to place that bill on the November ballot is continuing through this month, with a target date of June 25 as the cutoff date to turn in petitions. 233,000 signatures, totaling 3% of the electorate in 44 of Ohio’s 88 counties from the previous election, are needed for the proposed referendum to be certified on the upcoming ballot in the fall. Although no official totals have been released since We Are Ohio announced they’d reached 215,000 three weeks ago, unofficial sources are now stating that the totals are 3 to 4 times that many now. “The goal now is one million signatures,” according to Parker.

In central Ohio, over 1,500 volunteers are helping in the campaign, which has identified four upcoming festivals as key mobilizing targets. Those are; Columbus Pride, Juneteenth & Creekside Blues/Jazz fest, all on 6/17, & Comfest, on 6/24. The biggest priority is being put on mobilizing for Comfest, the huge Columbus music fest. This year SB 5 petitions will be officially part of the fest, at various designated areas, and a break-out session is scheduled to push for signatures and support. Volunteers are urged to go on line, to, or email John Parker at , to sign up to help out. The Firefighter’s Union and SEIU will have official delegations campaigning there, as well.

“We will probably speak to over half of the entire electorate in Ohio before we finish the petition drive, “ said Norm Wernet, Ohio Director of the Alliance for Retired Americans. “In all the struggles I’ve been involved in, I’ve never seen so wide a coalition built, so many Ohioans involved.”

The WeAreOhio website now has in place charts of festivals, gatherings, rallies and various mobilizations taking place everyday through June/July that people can check out, call in for and help out. As well as petitioning, phone banks are now running full time at the Ohio AFL-CIO offices on E. Broad St., Columbus. Volunteers are needed for data entry, picking up petitions and numerous other tasks, as well. Folks can text OH225568 in order to get regular up-dates on the campaign.

Celebrations, parties, Get Out The Vote rallies and many other activities are already being planned for July through November. The campaign has begun developing a huge LABOR DAY RALLY, for the Columbus Commons, which will kick off the actual fall election campaign.

“This needs to reestablish Labor’s Day and really reclaim our Commons, for all of us,” said Don Coulter, President of Columbus SOAR (Steelworker’s Union retiree organization). “I’m really happy we’re reestablishing Labor Day as a holiday here for all working folks, but we have to keep it going, do it in 2012, and every year after that!”

The actual fight will begin in earnest after June/July, and will face a massive money-driven campaign to defend SB 5 from corporations and the wealthy. It will take a huge turnout of working people to win, but we have the people, all they’ve got is money!

“This fight is a tough one,” stated Ohio AFL-CIO President Tim Burga. “There is terrible danger to our people in SB 5, but it also offers us a tremendous opportunity to talk to all Ohioans about the positives of unionism, about what unity and coalition work can win for us. This is a difficult, a tough fight, but when we’re united and determined, WE WILL WIN!”