HISTORY OF SB5
Senate Bill 5 was a law passed in 2011 that would have stripped public employees of their collective bargaining rights.
We didn’t start this fight, but we fought back.
Throughout February and March, 2011, tens of thousands of Ohioans rallied at the Statehouse against SB 5. At the same time we were showing up in massive numbers at the Statehouse, workers across the state were holding town halls and rallies that attracted thousands of people in small, medium and large cities.
Politicians ignored We The People.
In the Ohio Senate, SB 5 passed by one vote, 17-16, and in the Ohio House then Speaker Bill Batchelder, R-Medina ordered guards to remove protesting workers from the chamber. As the State Highway Patrol ushered the onlookers out of the chamber, Batchelder was caught on a live microphone saying, “now that the intellectuals have left the building.” His disdain said more about his lack of respect for hard working people in this state than anything else.
We didn’t start the fight, and we didn’t stop when Gov. Kasich signed SB 5 into law in late March. We had 90 days to collect 231,149 valid signatures. If we were successful, then SB 5 would not go into effect and we would go directly to the voters to restore a little sanity to this state with a citizen’s veto in November.
We Are Ohio formed as a citizen-driven, community-based, bipartisan coalition that includes public and private sector workers and employees, autoworkers, police officers, firefighters, teachers, nurses, pastors, small business owners, Republicans, Democrats and Independents, local elected officials and business leaders, students, Moms, Dads, family members and your neighbors.
The “People’s Petition,” had started.
Ohioans everywhere were not only asking “where do I sign,” but “how do I circulate petitions,” to fight SB 5? Petition circulators were in all 88 counties. A hot dog vendor had a booklet in Cleveland. In Wooster, supporters organized a drive-thru signature drive and cars lined up for blocks. In Athens, Ohio University students combed the Farmer’s Market each Saturday gathering signatures. There were literally hundreds of heart-warming stories like this being told.
On June 29, we held the “People’s Parade” in Columbus. Thousands of supporters gathered about a mile from the Ohio Secretary of State’s office near the Scioto River for “The Million Signature March.” We walked through the middle of the city in front of a semi-truck filled with 1,502 boxes of signed petitions from all 88 counties.
At the office, the crowd moved closer together to hear how many signatures we were turning in that day: an historic 1,298,301. When the number was announced, the crowd cheered so loud that it could be heard throughout the downtown. Volunteers unpacked the semi-truck and delivered the boxes to the 14th floor of the Secretary of State’s office. An engineer was called in to inspect for fear that the weight from the boxes might collapse the floor and send the petitions crashing down on the offices below.
We weren’t finished. Over the summer, we didn’t let up for a moment. More than 17,000 volunteers made phone calls, and went door-to-door in a massive grass roots campaign to let Ohioans know that SB 5 was unfair, unsafe and hurt us all.
We supplemented our grass roots outreach and field efforts with an earned and paid media campaign. In less than six months, we held more than 520 press events across the state. Our paid media ads began running with the first featuring a firefighter that underscored how unsafe SB 5 was to our emergency first responders.
During this time, we launched a bus tour across the state to talk about why SB 5 was wrong for Ohio in conjunction with the launch of early voting. The bus made stops near county boards of elections and hundreds of supporters turned out to greet the bus and then went into the voting booths to cast their votes early against SB 5.
On Nov. 8, 2011, Election Night, all of your hard work paid off. In an off-election year, meaning no presidential or statewide candidates were on the ballot, an astounding 2.1 million voters turned out to just say No on Issue 2 and veto SB 5.
We won by a 62-38 percent margin.
Today, We Are Ohio continues to fight for working families and the middle class.